By Lauren Myracle
A little background before we begin. The Banned Library was initially set up as part of a challenge to read all 100 banned library books on the ALA banned books list 2000-2009. I read about a half dozen. That’s six for you non-dozen-ites out there.
I got sidetracked.
Anyway, I’m going to attempt to continue that challenge on the all new Banned Library. That challenge starts here with ttyl by Lauren Myracle.
Thank you and good night.
No, no, no, no. I will not ever, ever say that about any art form. Someone worked to put this out there and I will nod deminish Ms. Myracle’s work by being so pedestrian as to say it “sucks.” That’s why I set up my little review scheme in the first place. So here we go.
What I Liked
The narrative does take chances. This is an experimental form of expository where we are only given the text the characters are writing down and nothing more. Sure, there is some fun graphic arts (more on that in a bit) to differenciate and inform, but for the most part you and the author are left with the characters words and I have to applaud the effort.
The graphics of the book are also striking and interesting take on this. Sure, plenty of other books have added differnet fonts, symbols, etc. but real effort was made here to differenciate between the girls and to make the pages resemble a text chatroom. One could almost call this book a “found footage” montage.
The language is spot on. I can say that I have been in my share of chatrooms and message boards over the years and watched the “l33t speak” or “text speak” or “netlingo” or “shit your grandparents used to put on licence plates” grow over the years. Say what you will about the degredation of the written word, this is a language and it can be read and understood. This book is one of the highest examples of this “lowly” tounge this internet librarian guy has seen.
What I Did Not Like
There is no real plot to speak of. None. Things happen and people say a lot of things and time passes, but a narrative is never really formed that gives a structure to this novel. I am fine with this being part of a series, a character study of these girls and their lives, but for god sakes give me something to read other than he said, she said.
There is no setting to speak of. Okay, if you want to get real meta, one could say the chatroom itself is a setting, a meeting place. One could look at this as one looks at court transcripts or something except that the audience is given no reference points other than three girls talking about there lives which the audidence can not see because the audience’s only view point is the chat room. This is a frustrating as placing one camera in the corner of a set of a soap opera and having three characters wander in front of it a few minutes at a time to discuss what is happening on the rest of the set.
The characters are carbon cut-out tropes. In my head, this is The Facts of Life if the author did not feel the urge to keep Tootie around. There’s the boy-crazy pretty one, the smart but socially awkward one, and the tough tomboyesque one with a bad home life. The boy crazy one talks about boys. The smart one finds god, I think. The tomboy sorta one makes fun of the other two and then says something at one point about her dad drinking. Here’s the thing, this sounds like I am confused but I am not. This is just how the story is told with one point drifting into another by playing on standard character plots.
Who Would Like This?
If you have a teenage girl that really needs a book report done, give her this book. Otherwise, leave this one to the MLIS grad students reading about challenged literature.
Why Was This Book Banned?
Name it. That is the most interesting part of this book. There’s tons of swearing (yep, even the f-bomb), there’s sex, drinking, body issues, lying to parents, sacriligous speak, near pedophilia, nudity, all of it. If you can say something about this book, its that it treats its characters as real fifteen year-old girls and this is how they talk and act, warts and all.
Oh, and does anybody want this book? I'll send it to you. For realz. First person who sends me their contact info gets it in the mail. Full Disclosure: I wrote all up in it.