Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.Considering how prominent online social networking and chatting have become in the lives of young people, I’m surprised that I haven’t seen more YA novels where it plays a major role. When I heard that Sarah Darer Littman’s upcoming release Want to Go Private? is based on online relationships I was immediately intrigued (especially since I interact with people online all the time). Yet when I initially dove into the ARC, my initial dislike of Abby had me questioning if I’d like this book at all. Fortunately, Littman’s story-telling had me turning pages late into the night and she perfectly captures so many emotions that go hand in hand with adolescence.
Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care? Everyone tells her to "make an effort," but why can't she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she's his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again.
As the story begins, Abby is going into her freshman year of high school. She starts off feeling reluctant towards change and unsure of how to make new friends. However, once she got involved with Luke, I was riveted. So much of what happened between them made my heart heart, but I couldn’t look away. Even though I’ve never been in her shoes, I found her mixture of excitement of and nervousness incredibly apt. Towards the end of the novel themes of acceptance and regret play a strong role, and I think a lot of readers will relate to those emotions. I would love to tell you more, but I’d spoil the book!
Want to Go Private? is told through multiple narratives, and the book was much better because of that fact. The other character perspectives made the story more interesting and meaningful, even if sometimes the dialogue in these sections came close to being preachy. My biggest complaint about the writing is the text speak, which is just annoying to read, but I used it some as a teenager, so I understand why it was there.
Want to Go Private? is not an easy book to read, and I don’t think the graphic content will suit every read that picks it up. Littman has a knack for capturing teen emotions. The plot of this book may be fictional, but Abby’s experiences are worth sharing with the world.