‘TBH, This is SO Awkward: A Novel in Text’ by Lisa Greenwald is quite interesting in that it is written almost entirely in text messages. In this day and age, text messages are the norm, and kids would often rather talk via text than spend time on the phone. Even when they are seeing each other, more often than not they can be found with phone in hand. So, it comes as no surprise that main characters Gabby, Cecily, and Prianka (G, C, and P when sending texts) have their messaging down pat. Having been best friends since forever, they are so used to talking to each other that they find it difficult to include the new girl at school, Victoria, in their group chats.
Victoria already feels out of place, but when she tries to begin chatting with the girls after being paired up with one of them as a reading partner, she begins to feel left out in the cold. In some ways, this is understandable. She has started at a new school and is struggling to fit in, while doing everything she can to make herself feel like she does fit in. She talks to her old friends at home, and it is clear she misses them. Yet it feels a little over the top that when she doesn’t get to be friends right away with the girls she’s aiming to be friends with that her mother steps in, talking to the principal about it. Even though it is clear that some kindness needs to be worked on throughout the storyline, it also feels as though a point is trying to be made about bullying, but everyone does have the right to be friends with whomever they please, without anyone telling them what they can or can’t do. The book does a nice job making a point of this, showing multiple viewpoints from the text messages of different characters and showing how there are, in fact, multiple perspectives to everything. One person’s opinion on a matter doesn’t constitute the only opinion, and this is a vital point for anyone, from middle school students to adults, to understand.
It is important to remember that the girls in this story are middle school students. They are trying to find their place in school, but while some have friends, others are trying to create new friendships. The story is true to the conundrum that many middle schoolers find themselves in. There are so many ways to second guess oneself, and middle school is a time when many do just that. Empathy is an all-important subject that must be broached, and Greenwald does a fine job of showing how text messages, whether written in jest or sent accidentally, causing undue pain, can truly affect people’s feelings and thought processes.
A worthwhile and fast read that will help any reader understand the lengths one wants to take to fit in and the trouble that can go along with it all.
You can find ‘TBH, This is SO Awkward: A Novel in Text’ by Lisa Greenwald here.
*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*