Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.
Abby is starting high school--it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care? Everyone tells her to "make an effort," but why can't she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke--he is her secret, and she's his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again.
Curiosity drew me towards this book. Two trusted sources (my sister and an author friend) read it and enjoyed it (I mean, in the way that you enjoy reading a well-written book about a totally messed up topic). They also proclaimed it to be wildly creepy, so there was that. When I saw it on top of the new shelf at the library, I didn’t hesitate to grab it.
Sarah Darer Littman’s Want to Go Private? is, at its core, a contemporary issue-drive young adult book. The issue at hand it internet predators and how susceptible lonely teenagers can be to their traps. The main character, Abby, has been feeling depressed and lonely since high school started. She felt like her mother and sister wanted her to be someone she is not, while her workaholic father rarely even drops in to know what’s going on with her family. She and her best friend, Faith, are beginning to move in different directions, both socially and interest-wise. Faith wants high school to mean new experiences and new friends—but Abby wants everything to stay the same, for fear that their old friendship will fall apart with the introduction of the new. When Abby begins talking to Luke online she doesn’t think it’s a big deal—it’s not like she plans to meet him in person. But soon Luke is Abby’s closest confidante and she begins to shy away from the people she loves. Ultimately, she agrees to run away with him for a few days—leaving her family and friends to wonder where she went and whether or not she is okay.
Let me start off by saying this book was creepy. I can’t imagine a book having to do with a pedophile internet predator not being creepy, but still, this book was creeptastic. I was reading this book on the train to work and I totally forgot where I was, too preoccupied by how disturbing the book is to remember that I was on my way somewhere in the real world (luckily, my stop is the last one so I didn’t mess up my transportation for that day). [SPOILER ALERT] While Abby doesn’t pay the ultimate price in Want to Go Private?, she faces horrific consequences for trusting Luke—consequences that I hadn’t even considered. THAT messed up. The consequences of Abby’s choices are probably the biggest strength in Sarah Darer Littman’s novel—the consequences being messed up, realistic, and not entirely expected proved to make a big impact. I assumed that Abby would end up dead, but she did not.
Ounding loved ones were simultaneously emotional and realistic—from her almost-boyfriend’s major confusion, to her sister’s scared rage, to Faith’s fierce determination to help the search for Abby any way she can.
Sarah Darer Littman’s Want to Go Private? was a creepy, well-written contemporary young adult book that managed to convey the dangers of internet predators without sounding like an after school special. Abby’s story proves to be very emotional without being overdramatic.
Rating: 4.5—very good.