The wild popularity of the Gossip Girl series has resulted in a strange and often contentious divide among those looking for good books for young adult readers and those who read them, regularly.
On one side, you have some influencers who absolutely cannot understand the appeal of a book where girls are catty, fashion rules and illicit behavior such as sex makes an appearance.
On the other, you have readers who have grown up on a healthy dose of Celebreality and don’t know a life before the term “reality TV star” was coined. They not only see nothing wrong with books like GG, but can turn to a decent facsimilie of it pretty much anytime they’re near a television – a plasma flat screen, of course.
Teen books of the popular fiction variety don’t dictate what teens do, say, wear or how they act, 90% of the time they’re simply reflecting it. And sometimes the authors willing to go out on a limb and portray/admit that teens can be catty, sometimes engage in sexual intercourse, or may even drink illegally are forced to defend their books to those who forget reading is about escape.
It Chicks, by Tia Williams could easily be labeled a Gossip Girl copy cat and readers could make up their own minds whether they’d like to take a cruise through its pages. But to call it that would do the book and the author a disservice.
The author’s comment, when asked about writing about black girls keeping up with the Jonses, strikes me as perfect, “the black girls I know were the joneses.”
In other words, the mainstream doesn’t have the market cornered on the antics of students of privilege. What It Chicks does is give readers a peek into a world they’ve likely never been a part of and likely never will be beyond literature or television.
For readers who love the pure drama of teen life – either because it’s so far from their own, it’s like voyeurism or because they need escape from their own trials – It Chicks is a fresh take on a topic as old as time.
If for some of us, the brand name dropping within It Chicks is too much, remember that for every reader who will be turned off by it, there’s four more who 1) may not even notice the brand names and 2) won’t let mention of them impact how they feel about the story.
A more legit concern, when recommending this book to a young reader, may be its large cast. There are seven protags in the story. However, Teens Read Too reviewer said of that element “In the beginning it was hard to tell who was who, but as you keep reading it gets easier. “
I know well the debate books like It Chicks brings about – my own have been mired in it from time to time, but the fact remains, it’s still new for African American teens to see themselves portrayed outside of problem novels and historical fiction. And if one is looking for a wide variety to put in front of a teen reader who may still be hunting for their cuppa tea, offering It Chicks is a good start.
The Buzz on It Chicks
“Williams, who has an ear for the way teens speak, has created a hip series filled with heart and a lot of sass.” –Essence
“If you enjoyed the movie Fame, you’re sure the dig IT CHICKS!” –American Cheerleader
“The writing and dialogue is lively, and there’s plenty of turmoil to get caught up in…over-the-top and fun!” –Publisher’s Weekly
“It chicks is an entertaining story but could have been so much better if the makeup expert and fashionista would cut back on the name brand dropping or just have a tip section at the end of the chapters. ” — Amazon Reviewer “Nodice”
“THE IT CHICKS is likely to be well-received among young adult readers, however, parents may have reservations. ” — The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers