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Pretty Little Liars

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Pretty Little Liars
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Pretty Little Liars is a series of young adult novel written by an American
writer, Sara Shepard. After receiving an undergraduate degree at New York University
and an MFA at Brooklyn College, she published Pretty Little Liars series as her
first publication in 2006.

The novel has its background set in suburb of
Philadelphia. The novel develops around lives of five teenage girls bonded together
in an exclusive clique led by one of the girls, Ali D. Ali is the queen bee who
manipulates the other girls who feel inferior to Ali. The group falls apart
following Ali’s mysterious disappearance after the girls’ sleepover in the sixth
grade. The novel takes place three years after Ali’s disappearance and her dead body
is found. The girls start to get mysterious text messages from an anonymous person
with an initial A. She sends text messages threatening to reveal the girls’ darkest

Hanna used to be a fat girl, but after Ali had gone, she lost weight and
recreated herself as a diva at Rosewood. She has a shoplifting habit and a fear of
losing newly gained popularity. Spencer is the smart one who excels in school,
sports, and everything else. Her sister Melisa is the only one she could never
overcome. Her family turns their back on her after she gets caught kissing her
sister’s boyfriend. Aria moves to Iceland and comes back after three years have
passed. The Rosewood considers her as a weirdo. She tries to keep her dad’s secret
of having an affair with his former student. Emily is a swimmer who had secret
feelings for Alison and after Alison is gone, she begins to have the same feelings
for a new girl named Maya. She struggles with her feelings and how the society will
view her.

Overall, the book is excellent for the way it is written. It is divided
into several small chapters. Each chapter covers a story of one of the four girls.
When a novel has so many main characters, it often gets confusing to follow and keep
track of the story and match characters to the story. However, Shepard does a good
job of keeping them in order by dedicating each chapter to one girl’s story. It
makes you want to keep reading to find out what is happening in the other girls’
life while one girl is going through one issue. Its target audience being teenage
girls, the language is easy to read. The author uses slangs and contractions yet it
is completely acceptable because that is part of teenagers’ vocabulary. Shepard
throws in popular culture so target readers can relate to the characters more

As far as the content of the book, I was slightly disappointed. The novel
pictures the girls engaged in inappropriate behaviors as teenagers, such as stealing
boyfriend’s dad’s car and wrecking it, shoplifting, desperately trying to have sex,
and finding a mom having sex with a police officer to drop charges. Just as how the
public criticizes TV and film for being gruesome, violent, and sexual and how they
promote such behaviors to especially young viewers, this novel is having the same
dilemma. The novel focuses on each girl’s problems that are very likely to occur in
every normal girl’s life in reality, such as breaking up with boyfriend, dealing
with parents’ divorce, being popular at school, trying to lose weight and stay
skinny. However, Shepard goes too far in her effort to create a tie between her
characters and teenage girls in reality. I advise the reader to be aware.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Sara Shepard
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OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
Who Am I
Your Name (Optional): 
Yoomi Kim
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Flawless (2007)

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Flawless (2007)
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The second novel of the young adult series Pretty Little Liars proves that the
drama and mystery are no small matter. Flawless is full of teenage girl problems but
it also touches on the scandal surrounding their late friend, Alison’s, re-opened
murder case. Starting off with a premonition about a certain male character then
following with a flash back to middle school, this novel is full of turns and no
conclusion. Bulimia, a lesbian romance, and “The Jenna Thing” are all major issues
that threaten the girls’ reputations and friendship.

Alison, Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna are an inseparable group of teenage girls who have a few secrets that they
will never share. “The Jenna Thing” refers to a prank they played on Toby Cavanaugh,
their creepy neighbor. They threw a lit firework into his tree house one night when
they thought he was sitting in it alone, but when the paramedics came and lowered a
young girl from the destroyed tree house, they all agreed it was one more secret
they would take to the grave. Shortly after their pact was solidified, Alison went
missing and the girls became ex-best friends. The story picks up three years later
after Alison’s body is discovered in cement, the remaining girls are brought back
together at her funeral and the “A” contact begins. The girls know that this
mysterious person texting them can’t be Alison…or can it?

The secrets that Alison used to hold against them are on the verge of getting out. When it comes to female
teenage development, anything that makes them appear different can shake them at the
core, which causes these girls to do anything to keep them under wraps. Emily in
particular struggles with her sexuality and fears that her friends and family won’t
accept her if she is honest with them and herself. She at one time felt close to
Alison, but the “A” character knows of a kiss she shared with another girl and
threatens to tell. A past eating disorder is also a topic that “A” haunts Hanna
with, and the messages continue to leave the girls in the dark at figuring out who
they are. The argument the book presents is that betrayal and friendship are often
mixed when honesty is missing. The girls have been hiding and hurting others to
cover their own tracks, but when the lies start adding up things get messy.

Toby is the girl’s main suspect in this book as Alison’s murderer. They know that she had
dirt on him and they think he is seeking revenge on all of them as “A.” As Emily and
Toby begin to get closer, the others become suspicious of his motives. Toby has his
own concerns, and fears that the girls are going to frame him for his secret past.
The drama intensifies at the end when a biker comes to Emily’s porch asking for a
phone. He mentions that has been an emergency in the woods and things. The night
before, Toby had come to her door begging to speak with her but she told him “Go
Away! You heard me, I know. What. You. Did. To. Her” (Shepard 287). Little did Emily
know that this would be the last thing she says to him and that the girl’s fears
would be greater when Emily received “A’s” text message: “Poor confused Emily. I bet
you could use a big warm girl hug right now, huh? Don’t get too comfortable. It’s
not over until I say it is” (Shepard 330).

Shepard, Sara. Flawless. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. Print. Pretty Little Liars.

Author/Artist/Director of Item Being Reviewed: 
Sara Shepard
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OCLC # (found in the UT Library Catalog): 
Who Am I
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Kelli Scandrol
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