Grade: 4 stars out of 5
With life becoming more and more digitalized and social networking becomes a must, the danger of internet predators looms overhead. For Abby, starting high school is scary. Best friend Faith begins to spread her wings in high school leaving behind Abby. Alone and betrayed by her best friend and her parents Abby turns to Luke whom she met in the virtual world for comfort. Luke, however, is more dangerous than what is perceived by his screen name.Sarah Darer Littman or should I say Sarah “Daring” Littman constantly writes the darker side to life not censoring even the more graphic details. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but depression, confusion, and loneliness. Littman was able to capture the life of an adolescent girl with low self-esteem beautifully and somehow transformed her life to one with power and strength. Want to Go Private? tugs at the readers’ heartstrings and pulls them along with Abby’s dark journey. Be prepared to feel sadness, sympathy (or empathy), anger, and relief.
Broken into 3 different parts, readers follow Abby through her fall, her capture, and her road to self-redemption. Want to Go Private? is told in multiple perspectives to showcase how many people the villain can affect besides the victim. Best friends, parents, siblings, and even crushes from school plays a role in Abby’s rescue and her recovery.
Littman does an amazing job at describing the life after the attack. Abby had been groomed to believe that Luke loved her and cared for her. She becomes reluctant to leave and blame Luke and doesn’t fully understand the true depth of the crime. She willingly goes to Luke and willingly gave herself to him, but to the world Luke is a sick bastard. Abby is judged and bullied by her classmates and her father making them as sick as Luke. Littman doesn’t begin the book with happiness and butterflies and she doesn’t leave the book as such. Instead Littman writes Abby as a survivor who tells the world of what she had been through, which makes her stronger. Want to Go Private? is an inspirational novel.
However with all that being said, I wished Littman took her time to cultivate the relationship between Luke and Abby. While Abby was in a dark place making her more susceptible to influences, the level of trust and quickness to agree to meet up with Luke is hard to believe at times. One thing that struck me strange was when Luke asked about Abby’s bra size within the first week of chatting. That to me should have struck an alarm because who asks about the size of a girl’s chest? When Abby replied back believing that because he’s online and that they aren’t face-to-face she’s safe, I wanted to shake her. No! Lie! There are reasons why some things are personal!
Things escalate sexually and I must warn readers that the book gets very graphic. When pictures are shared and videos are streamed, I wondered why Abby never asked Luke to remove his hat. She points out how his face is obscured by his hat and the shadows yet she never asks for a better picture. Abby’s naivety is less endearing and more annoying.
Want to Go Private? is still a remarkable novel. Sarah Darer Littman proves as always that she is an amazing storyteller.
Published: 2011, August 1
Source: unsolicited ARC from Scholastic