A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone
While the title may seem misleading once you start reading the book, you’ll understand it by the time you reach the final page.
This quick ‘novel in verse form’ tells the stories of three girls who are played by the same guy. Josie (just a freshman), Nicolette, and Aviva all fall for hunky senior “T. L.” While all three consider themselves girls who have a good, centered sense of self-worth, they all fall apart in TL’s arms.
As a freshman, Josie starts to question the positive ego she had in middle school. High school can be brutal, and being so sought after by a senior and being allowed into the popular group lifts her back up—so that she can be dropped from a greater height. Overhearing her boyfriend and his buddies talk about ‘nailing’ girls and freshmen as ‘freshmeat,’ she wonders if she is the topic of conversation. Nicolette is a very experienced girl, but she always goes out with guys from other schools so that she doesn’t get a bad reputation. With TL, everyone starts to know Nicolette’s business and exactly what she’s done. Aviva is a ‘criss-cross’ girl. She is able to hang out with all sorts of groups and cliques. But her goodness and honesty make her blind to TL’s deception. Josie is the first to be deceived and the one who helps all the girls played by TL to fight back.
High school housekeeping: There’s a good reason this book is becoming popular on my campus now that it has a new cover. Without being at all pornographic, it’s very sexy. It shows how young people sink into relationships (and bed) when their hormonal drives overpower their logic. It would be comic to see how TL says the exact same thing to all three girls (“You’re so soft,” etc.) if the consequences for them weren’t so bad. In using the (still quite popular) old book Forever by Judy Blume, Josie creates a way for all the played girls to have a conversation and to warn others. Most high school libraries have Forever (I reviewed it here); you may want to read it after reading A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl. The Lexile level of Bad Boy is 780, in the sixth grade range. I read it looking for good books for our Read 180 classes. However, on this one, I think interest is general for girls—just about everyone will come away wiser.