Summary: The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss is an insightful look at the inner workings of a clique in middle school. Where most books on this topic focus on the thoughts and feelings of the victims of these groups, The Girls explores this territory from the perspectives of the group members themselves, showing the insecurities of tween girls, even those who claim the title of “most popular.”
Maya awakens one sleepy Saturday morning to a wonderful surprise – am unexpected outing with her dad to Six Flags. Even better is the fact that she can take a friend along. But when she calls one member of her group of friends after another, she discovers that they all have other plans. All but her have been invited to a sleepover. She wonders what she did wrong to get kicked out of the group.
The other members of the group have their own issues and insecurities that keep them from standing up for Maya. Renee’s parents are going through a divorce and she lives in the shadow of her model-beautiful mother. Darcy simply follows whatever Candace, the group leader, dictates. Candace is her key to popularity. Brianna often finds herself at the receiving end of Candace’s cruel comments, but enjoys the spotlight that being Candace’s friend places her in. Candace wants nothing more than to be exactly the opposite of her mother, who she feels gave up her own life to have children.
The slow implosion of this group of girls, beginning with the exclusion of Maya, makes an interesting story that middle grades girls will understand and feel a connection to. And, unlike many less realistic stories aimed at this age group, not everyone learns her lesson at the end. The ending is satisfying and heartening, though. I will definitely recommend this story to my students.
Grades 4& up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: none
Nudity/Adult Content: none