Friday, October 01, 2010

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

Hailed as the first novel to be written entirely in instant messages, ttyl has been repeatedly challenged since its 2004 publication, primarily because of the language the three 10th grade girls use. Both ttyl and its sequel ttfn were New York Times best sellers and ttyl made the American Library Association's list of Most Challenged Books in 2007.

According to the April 15, 2009, Wausau Daily Herald, “The author of "ttyl," Lauren Myracle, who has a son in fifth grade, said she understands the objections to her book. She also said the book's dialogue about sex and alcohol is frank but that the characters criticize those who engage in those behaviors. "It's about girls who make bad decisions and learn from them," Myracle said of her book. "That could be helpful to middle school kids or high schools kids as they navigate through life." The Wausau School Board voted 7-2 to keep the book in a middle school library after a parent asked that it be removed.

My introduction to ttyl was at an anti-censorship event where Myracle and two friends read from the book, portraying the three characters, Angela, Zoe, and Maddie. Angela is bubbly and boy crazy and seems shallow in her preoccupation with “attire,” but her dramatics are a kind of wisdom. Zoe is the good girl, a straight A student whose crush on a teacher begins to take over her life. Maddie, who is a wild child to cover up her insecurities, gets lured into the popular clique despite her friends’ warnings.

Myracle brilliantly uses the IM medium to create unique and convincing voices that carry the multifaceted plot. The girls are hilarious and vulgar as they talk about sex and relationships, none of which progress beyond kissing. They are touching and inspiring as they rally first to help Maddie and then Zoe through tough situations. If the book has a message, it is that deluding yourself with wishful thinking can have serious consequences.

Lauren Myracle has become the Judy Blume for today’s teens, both in popularity and in the discomfort her books cause those adults who want to pretend that teenage girls are still children. Her teens are loyal friends, often idealists, gossipy and crude among themselves, but very, very real.

BTW, today is Follow A Library Day on Twitter!

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