28 & Beyond: It Chicks

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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

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9 Responses to 28 & Beyond: It Chicks

  1. Doret says:

    It Chicks is better than Gossip Girls. I actually loved It Chicks. The beginning was a little bumpy but it kept on getting better. Yes there are a lot of characters but the author does a good job of maintaining their story lines. The culture references are spot on, and there are some funny ass parts in the book. Yes the characters appear to be superficial, however each character has substance. They may be label hungry teens but when they are alone the reader is allowed to see their softer side. I believe the book is very Bill Cosbyisque (made that up), the lead characters are black but the author doesn’t try to prove this they just are who they are. Also the author easily blends in other races without making it seemed forced. I am still waiting on the sequl

  2. Paula says:

    Thanks for weighing in.

  3. carlasarratt says:

    Doret, that’s a great assessment. I read It Chicks last year right after I read Paula’s debut title So Not the Drama. It was cool for me to read these titles as it took me back to the days when FAME was on TV and we were obsessed with Leroy and the gang. I too am waiting on the sequel because I am really invested in the love triangle that Tia has created with her characters.

  4. Doret says:

    Yes I am lovin the love triangle, also interested in seeing where the author takes the other characters. I think the It Chicks series can only get better. I’ve been reading a lot of YA, though I haven’t read many black YA authors lately. (shame on me) . This fact has been bothering me. So next up for me a book from the Del Rio Ray series (my 1st) Hotlanta and Street Love.

  5. carlasarratt says:

    Doret,
    Wednesday I learned that Tia has a new book coming out called Sixteen Candles in May, I believe. I didn’t see a summary, but my guess is this is the next book in the series. So once you finish reading the next few titles on your list, you’ll be able to see what Tia does for the kids in her series.

  6. Doret says:

    Thanks for the info. I checked out Don’t Get It Twisted. Its my next read

  7. [...] how those words dare grace our pages, you’re probably not alone.  As I mentioned in my 28 & Beyond feature of It Girls, some people simply aren’t comfortable with the frank tone of young adult [...]

  8. Carmelita says:

    i was just wondering if anyone knows whether or not Tia will write a sequel to this book because once i started reading it, i couldn’t stop. I just wan to know FOR SURE, because allot of people are sayin’ “i think so” which makes me want to punch them
    lol
    off topic but this was till an awesome book to read, and if ignore the profanity and stuff like that, the book will still be good. They should make a movie bout this.

  9. [...] The Brown Bookshelf Review [...]

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