Middle-graders who swear of texting for one week have to discover other means of communication, with mixed results.
Katie Friedman Gives up Texting by Tommy Greenwald. Roaring Brook, 2015, 227 pages
Reading Level: Middle Grades, 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-14
When Katie accidentally sends a dismissive text to her supposed boyfriend Nareem, with predicable results, she decides to give up texting for one week. Best friend Charlie Joe Jackson doesn’t get it, but Katie receives encouragement in this endeavor from her idol Jane Plantero, lead singer of the all-girl rock band Plain Jane. If Katie can get ten friends to stop texting for a week, Jane will give them all a backstage pass to her next concert, and maybe even perform one of Katie’s songs. Once pretty and popular Eliza decides to take the pledge, the ten friends magically assemble. But how hard will it be to stay off texting?
“Communicating is complicated.” That’s Katie’s discovery, and her experience offers no easy answers. This reader agrees with her parents when they suggest she spend less time staring at a screen and more in front of actual faces. But if everybody is texting, you miss out. She and her “caveman” gang experience some real insights and breakthroughs during their text-less week, but they also miss their phones. While not a literary masterpiece, the story raises some interesting questions (see below).
Cautions: middle-grade “dating”
Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 4.25
- Artistic value: 3.75
Do you text? How often? On a scale of 1-10, how important is it that you communicate with your friends this way?
On p. 154, Katie says, “I felt bad. I felt good. I felt guilty. I felt proud. I felt happy. I felt sad. And I felt right.” Can you understand her mixed feelings?
On p. 78 Jane says, “I refuse to be defined by [online society] because it’s no way to live. It makes us mean, and it wastes our time, and it prevents us from being real people.” Do you agree? Why or why not?