Siobhan Vivian: A Review
A gripping read for any girl who has ever felt ugly, pretty or even ordinary. So I guess that’s everyone.
Each year, a few weeks after the start of term, the girls of Mount Washington High know they will face one thing: the List. Written by an anonymous author, the List details the prettiest and ugliest girl in each year from freshman to senior (for those of us in the UK, that’s 4 years, a bit like years 10, 11, 12 and 13.)
The eight girls picked, Abby and Danielle, Lauren and Candace, Bridget and Sarah and Margo and Jennifer have to endure the whole school knowing who they are and judging them for their appearance on the List. Each part chronicles how the first week of the List being out goes for each girl, Monday to Saturday, moving between the girls from chapter to chapter. Vivian shows insight into the minds of the individual girls and what their lives become due to the List.
With an element of mystery, wondering who created the List, the novel neatly picks apart the emotions of 8 different girls and the school’s mentality towards an almost sickening, tradition.
What I Thought
First of all, I thought this was an excellent concept. It was a simple way to show the cruelty of high school as well as the inside workings of the girls who were picked. It was also genius to include the List at the beginning of the novel, giving you a pre-conception of each girl from the off.
It’s also really nice to have a set time-frame, you know that Monday is day one and Saturday (the homecoming dance) is the last day – giving each girl 6 chapters (one for each day) to tell you her story. Personally, I find it really difficult to write from more than one character’s perspective, and Vivian manages to write from eight – that’s certainly something impressive in itself.
The List is what might be called an ‘issues’ book. It deals with ideas of prettiness and ugliness – body issues, love, family bonds, friendship, ambition, self worth, jealousy and regret. It shows how all these things can be linked to the concepts of ugly and pretty, as well as a feeling of outsiderness, for both the pretty girls and the ugly ones.
The best part of this book is how it wraps up – how each girl gets to end her story, but each is certainly not finished.
In a Sentence
A high school drama dealing with issues every girl can relate to, with a who dunnit twist.