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16 August 2011



AUTHOR: Sarah Darer Littman

IMPRINT: Scholastic Press



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.

WANT TO GO PRIVATE? description and cover art courtesy of GOODREADS.


WANT TO GO PRIVATE? Explores the world of internet predators and how even a smart girl can get duped into believing a web of lies.

I had a really hard time writing this review because I had mixed feelings about WANT TO GO PRIVATE? On the one hand, this book is an excellently crafted cautionary tale about internet predators. On the other hand, I could not connect to or sympathize much with the main character Abby.

The one thing I liked the most was how the first part of the story, where Abby meets Luke online and establishes a disturbing relationship with him, is told from Abby's point of view. Which is natural and really allowed me as a reader to get inside Abby's head. But the second part of the story, after Abby gets into Luke's car and disappears, is told from the of view of Abby's sister, Lily, her friend, Faith and Billy, the boy who likes her. I loved how this allowed readers to see Abby's actions (and how they affected so many people) from a different vantage point.

As a 14 year old high school freshman, Abby starts off the school year with her best friend, Faith, by her side. However, before long Faith has made a new friend and Abby is left feeling left out. Not to mention the pressure her mother and (younger) sister put on her to wear makeup and more feminine clothing. With this is mind, I could well understand why Abby turns to internet chatting and ultimately finds Luke.

What I couldn't understand was the amount of personal and completely inappropriate information Abby shares with Luke, under the guise that he is an online friend only and she will never actually meet him. Even with this in mind, I just couldn't imagine being in her place. And to me, that's what makes a good book, being able to imagine yourself in the story, experiencing what the characters do and feel.

Granted, when I was 14, the internet was not such a pervasive part of my everyday life as it seems it is for teens today (I'm not that old, but still...), but I can't see my teen self being taken in by a "Luke" as easily as Abby was. And I'm not ashamed to admit that even though I had good friends in high school, I had low self esteem and suffered from depression. And I definitely could not understand Abby's motivation behind running away with Luke. It's just unfathomable to me that she would meet and get into a car with someone who she met online and knew was significantly older than her. On the face of it, it seems extremely sketchy that a 20 something year old would be interested in a 14 year old. No matter how much older she may seem, look or act, that would ring GIANT alarm bells for me, especially if I was a smart girl like Abby (seemed) to be.

In the end though, when I really think about it objectively, there is a big difference between the academic and emotional intelligence that Abby possessed. And this is what made it easy for Luke to dupe her into thinking they had a real relationship and not that he was preying on her. Abby's insecurities, feelings of being left out and that people didn't like her for who she really was, made her the perfect target for Luke.

All personal feelings aside, WANT TO GO PRIVATE? is a well written story of the dangers of internet predators and how even those girls who are smart and have been warned can be susceptible. My rating for WANT TO GO PRIVATE? takes this into account and is based more on the story and content of the book itself, than my personal feelings about the character of Abby.

"I want to know how you could go off with some creep from the internet that you never met before in your life. How someone as smart as you could do something that stupid." (p. 265*)

"Like I said, you were busy and I guess I was feeling, I don't know lonely and... like... well, Luke listened to me. It was like he knew me better than anybody, and understood exactly what I was going through." (p. 266*)

"The thing is, you really don't know them at all. And the reason they're listening to you, and being so understanding isn't because they're real friends. It's because they're getting you to rely on them and trust them so they can take advantage of that trust and...hurt you." (p.326*)

*Quotes are taken from the ARC of WANT TO GO PRIVATE? and are subject to change at publication.



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