TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
"The Notebook Girls" is printed as an actual composition book with lined pages and handwritten entries. It's (allegedly) the true story of four teenage friends (Courtney, Sophie, Lindsey, and Julia) who attend Manhattan's prestigious Stuyvesant High School. Over the course of almost two years, beginning in their freshman year, the girls pass the notebook back and forth, writing about everything that is happening in their worlds and commenting on each other's entries.
You may have caught my "allegedly" up there in the first paragraph. I found it hard to believe these essays were the actual, unedited writings of four teenage girls, written as they were experienced. So many of the entries seemed contrived or forced to discuss certain "hot button" issues, including body image, religion, the Iraq War, drug use, homosexuality, and oral sex. Something about it just didn't seem authentic to me.
With those criticisms out of the way, I won't deny that "The Notebook Girls" is a compelling, engrossing story. It reads almost like a "Gossip Girl" novel, in that privileged teens have incredible amounts of independence, little or no parental supervision, and conduct themselves (wild parties, drugs, sex, etc.) as if they're in their twenties. The friendship between the four girls comes through the pages quite clearly, and they each have a distinct voice and outlook. It was hard not to get caught up in their story, and I eagerly kept turning the pages to find out what happened next. In the end, most older teen girls (the themes are a bit much for middle schoolers) will likely enjoy this very readable story, even if they'll leave — as I did — with a nagging feeling that it wasn't entirely true.