"Want to Go Private?" by Sarah Darer Littman
Abby is starting high school, one of the most exciting times of a teenagers life. But Abby isn't feeling very excited. She's having difficulty making new friends and her best friend is drifting away. Abby begins to wonder if anyone understands what she is going through.
Luke does. Luke is a 27-year-old Abby met online. At first Abby isn't sure about him. She knows all about internet safety and that she shouldn't be chatting with him, but he gets her. He understands her struggles with her family and friends. He thinks she's beautiful and smart.
Then Luke asks Abby to meet him in real life, which she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is, and Abby goes missing. The police race to find her as her friends and family wonder if they will ever see Abby again.
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman is a young adult novel that gives a realistic portrayal of the dangers of internet chatting and meeting people online. It is a timely novel and one that all young girls should read. Yes, it has scary moments and gets a little graphic but it's what is necessary to get through to young adults about the dangers of the internet.
It is a tough world for teenagers today. I remember the angst and troubles of high school that we all felt. The internet wasn't popular until I was almost through high school (wow, did I just make myself feel old!) and we didn't have these worries. But todays teenagers have the internet, cell phones, webcams, social networking sites…the list goes on and a lot of parents don't have an understanding of the rapidly advancing technology. It's very easy for a stranger to exploit weaknesses in our children through the internet.
That is why I'm glad there are authors like Sarah Darer Littman who are writing these novels. Our kids are bombarded by internet safety messages these days. And what I really appreciated about this novel was the character of Abby saying she had heard all those messages but that wasn't her case, Luke was different. It's easy for kids to think "that can't happen to me" or "this isn't like that."
Sure, the writing in this novel may not be fantastic or the plot may seem predictable but that doesn't matter when it comes to this book. It portrays a very real possibility in a way that will reach both teenagers and parents. I highly recommend this book for parents who are looking to open up discussion with their children about internet usage and to help teenagers understand the mindset of the men and women who use the internet to take advantage of children.