Want To Go Private? is written by Sarah Darer Littman and was published in 2011 by Scholastic. Littman’s website can be found here.
Genre: Realistic/Tough Read
“When Abby meets Luke online, she can’t believe her luck. He’s nice. He’s funny. He listens to her and he thinks she’s pretty. He even gets jealous of other guys, which is adorable. Without Luke, Abby’s not sure how she’d make it through her first year of high school. Everyone, including her mom and her best friend, Faith, tells Abby that if she just made more of an effort, she’d be having fun instead of dreading each and every day as if it’s a prison sentence. But there’s nothing fun about being the lowest link in the social food chain.
Abby knows she’s not supposed to chat with random guys online. But Luke isn’t random, and he isn’t a stranger. Best of all, he loves her. So what if she never goes out with her friends anymore and her grades are slipping? All she needs is Luke. Luke is her secret, and she’s his—it’s perfect that way. So when Luke suggests that they meet each other in person, Abby agrees. And then she’s gone. Missing. Without a trace. And everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again.”
“Go private? Like a private chat room? I don’t usually do private chats with people I don’t know in real life. I’ve had all those Internet Safety talks at school. For all I know, BlueSkyBoi isn’t a “boi” at all. He could be some fifty-year-old dude living in his parents’ basement in California, or something. But then I figure it’s not like I’m ever going to meet the guy.”
Warnings: Swearing, manipulation/“grooming” by an Internet predator, overall disturbing material. Not for the faint of heart at all. If you have any issues with rape, don’t read this book.
Recommended Age Range: 16+ (see Overall Review for more information)
What I Liked:
I can’t say that I liked this book, since the topic was disturbing and depressing. However, I thought that Littman dealt with the reality of Internet predators very well and brought awareness to the dangers of talking to strangers over the Internet. Abby’s therapy sessions with her family was well done. Also, Abby’s speech at the end was important for Littman’s message, and Littman carried it off well.
What I Didn’t Like:
Sometimes I felt more like Littman had written this book in the 90s instead of 2011 because of the way the characters talked, but perhaps I just don’t know enough about fourteen-year-olds.
Also, Internet predators are creepy and very, very good at what they do.
This isn’t really a book that I would recommend for recreational reading, as it’s a very heavy topic with very heavy material. If you want to read it for recreation (which I did), I would recommend it for sixteen and up. However, I would also recommend it for anyone twelve and up (with a parent or adult figure reading it as well so that the book can be discussed) so that they are aware of Internet predators and their tactics. Littman’s message is an important one and shouldn’t be ignored simply because the book has heavy material in it.
Coming Up Next: The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman