Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers: Review and Thoughts on Book Banning

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are
Courtney Summers
St. Martin’s Griffin

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her—and her best friend’s boyfriend—start going around.  Now Regina’s been frozen out, and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. 

If Regina were guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth, and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past whom she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend…if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens, as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of CRACKED UP TO BE.

Some Girls Are on Goodreads

My Review

It’s hard for me not to compare this book to ALL THE RAGE, a more recently published novel by Courtney Summers which deals with some of the same issues (see content warning). I think I liked ALL THE RAGE better because it dealt more with the way the town as a whole responded to a rape allegation and some brutal high school bullying. I also connected more with Romy, the protagonist in ALL THE RAGE.

In SOME GIRLS ARE, Regina comes to regret her role in bullying other students, but in some ways, it still feels like that’s all she knows. She retaliates against her former friends in an effort to bring them down low enough that they’ll leave her alone. Instead, it continues the vicious cycle, only adding more fuel to the fires of revenge.

I think choosing to tell SOME GIRLS ARE from Regina’s perspective and bringing her passion for revenge to the forefront were really bold decisions and carried an important message. Regina isn’t the stereotypical novel victim, and I loved that. Unfortunately, I think I just didn’t really believe in her transformation at the end. I needed to see like three chapters more showing that she’d really changed and that she and Michael (whom I absolutely LOVED!!!) could work out together.

In YA, resolving an issue with any kind of adult involvement gets really tricky. Having a grown-up soar in and rescue the protagonist is a storytelling no-no. So I both appreciate and understand why that wasn’t the direction Summers took with the resolution of SOME GIRLS ARE. With a situation involving this kind of brutal bullying, it’s hard for me as a parent not to want adults involved. I believe we want kids to know they can and should bring adults into the equation when they reach a point where they can no longer attend school and feel safe.

I do want to acknowledge that sometimes kids are in situations where there isn’t a safe adult for them to go to, so I know that isn’t always a viable solution in real life, either.

SOME GIRLS ARE left me wishing for at least a nod to some adult figure who made at least some responsible call somewhere. Instead, I felt like the message was that if you can get good enough blackmail on a bully, you might just be able to stop the whole cycle.

Update: Since reading this book, I’ve discovered that I tend not to enjoy revenge stories. So probably at least part of my feelings for this one relate to that preference.

Some Girls Are on Bookshop

Content Notes

Content warning for mentions of rape, bullying, physical violence, mentions of suicide, death of a parent, drug use, drinking alcohol.

Language Content
Extreme and frequent use of profanity.

Sexual Content
At a party, a boy tries to rape a girl. He tears her skirt and leaves her arms bruised. Regina and her boyfriend Josh have had sex before. A boy taunts Regina about it, repeatedly asking if she only likes it in the dark. He also makes a crude comment about oral sex. Kissing between a boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

See sexual content. A group of girls surround Regina and repeatedly punch and kick her. A boy elbows another boy in the face, giving him a bloody nose. A dodgeball hits a boy in the face, giving him a bloody nose. A girl trips another girl, sending her tumbling down the stairs.

Girls use social media to bully Regina. They spread rumors about her and say cruel things to her and to one another. It’s not the first time this group has bullied someone. A previous target tried to commit suicide.

Brief reference to a woman killed when an overpass collapsed on her car. No real description of the accident.

Drug Content
One boy supplies students with pharmaceutical drugs. Teens gather at parties to drink alcohol. Mentions of smoking pot. Regina is the designated driver at both parties, but mentions that she drinks heavily at other times and winds up sick at the end of the night. She drinks alcohol in a couple of other scenes.

On Some Girls Are Being Removed from a Charleston Summer Reading List

I bought this book last summer (2015) when I heard about the decision by West Ashley High in Charleston to remove the book from their ninth grade summer reading list after receiving complaints from a parent about the content of the novel. The messages the books tackles are really important to us as a culture. I really admire this author’s unflinching look at some of the darker moments of high school. But, I see why it concerned this parent that a very limited required reading list included this option.

I have really mixed feelings about banning books. The short answer is I’m generally not a fan of book-banning. Largely because one vocal minority makes a decision that no one should have the option to read a particular book. I do not want to give the power to a select group to decide what we’re allowed to read.

I love that this particular parent made the choice to read the book with her daughter. Her ninth grade daughter had the choice between this book and another one and would be tested on comprehension once school started. As a parent, I’d certainly be uncomfortable with the amount of explicit content included in the book. I’d be uncomfortable that it’s on a reading list like this, where there are such limited options.

Banning a book, though, means one parent or a few make a decision for many kids beyond their own. I’m not sure that the book was banned in the school district as a whole, however. The article I read only mentions removing it from the reading list and adding another alternative selection for the class.

Courtney Summers received a ton of support from her fans and the YA community after the whole incident. Fans donated several hundred copies of the book, and public libraries in Charleston distributed them to the community. I think it’s really great that she received so much support. I do really believe in the importance of the kinds of issues she tackles in her writing.

Note: Post updated July 4, 2022. This post contains affiliate links which don’t cost anything to use but which help generate support for this blog.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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