Title: Want To Go Private?
Author: Sarah Darer Littman
Publication Date: 8.1.2011
Source: ARC from swap
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
As soon as I got finished reading this book, I texted a friend and said, “If I could put one book into the hands of every 13 year old, this is that book.”
Want to Go Private? is a powerful, moving, and emotional rollercoaster of a book that is not only horrifically accurate, but gracefully written. Sarah Darer Littman pulls no punches as she describes how easy it really is for a predatory to worm their way into your home.
Abby is the typical American teenager. She feels awkward, out of sorts, and in that horrible transition period between middle school and high school. It’s, quite possibly, the worst time to be a female. Abby finds solace in a boy/man she meets on a teen chat site. Luke listens to her, cares about her, and seems to be genuinely interested. He says and does all the right things to make a 14 year old girl fall hard and fast for him all in the comfort of her own bedroom.
I love the way Littman breaks this novel down into three sections. It starts with Abby, chronicles her first few months in high school and shows how Luke it able to prey on her. How he gets her to do things she wouldn’t usually do because he manipulates her needs to feel accepted and loved. The second part is told after Abby is gone, from three points of view: her younger sister, her best friend, and a classmate. Their alternating perspectives help piece together what went wrong with Abby at home and at school. Finally, the last section deals with the painful aftermath.
I won’t lie: This book had me cringing and grimacing at several points. Littman has a tendency to get a bit graphic, but I really feel like it was needed to drive the point home. Abby does things on her computer, for example sending topless pictures of herself to Luke, that horrified me. I think what scared me the most is that I was Abby growing up.
Did I send naked pictures of myself? No. But I was a 14 year old girl who felt horribly out of place in school because I had just moved and I found solace with internet friends … some who claimed to be boys, but looking back now, I think they may have been adults. The difference is, my computer was angled so the screen faced my door (which I wasn’t allowed to shut while on the computer) so that my parents could see everything I was doing when walking by. At the time I thought they were insanely overprotective and determined to take away my privacy.
I see now how smart they are, and I can’t thank them enough.
Parents need to read this book. Teens need to read this book. I cannot find the words to recommend this book enough.