The Notebook Girls

Title: The Notebook Girls
Authors: Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, Courtney Toombs
Pub Date: April 2006
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Non Fiction, Memoir

High school girls exchange honest notes.


Julia, Lindsey, Sophie, and Courtney are all freshman attending the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. One of them (they still argue who's idea it was) suggest they keep a group journal that they can pass back and forth to one and another, and lo' and behold, the Notebook Girls are created. The journal holds within its pages nearly two years of honest detailed high school life. Whether it's getting high at a Friday night party, having sex for the first time, stressing over exams, or dealing with the emotions of NYC's first memorial of 9/11, The Notebook girls candid and raw journal will inspire giggles, generate nostalgia and invite its readers into the realm of contemporary teenagers.

Why did I read it?

I came across this book while making a list for the Dangerously Read Challenge (I wanted to focus on banned books). The blurb that I read said that the notebook was a creation by four freshman girls after 9/11. It seemed genuine and exposed.

What did I like the most?
The four girls were definitely candid and there was a certain depth there that I didn't necessarily expect. I had no information about NYC schools, how they operated or the various programs each schools focused on. Evidently Stuy is an "ivy-league" primer, and because of that some entries were quite profound. Of course you still had the normal sex questions (should I do it or should I wait), but following that entry would be a discourse on religion (two girls were jewish and one was an atheist).

Here is an entry that discusses national security and sexuality.


[...] You're right it is really scary. But also, you have to think, how much is true and how much is the current administration playing on our fears. The really scary thing about being in such a precarious international situation like we are right now is that I feel like our government and media can totally fuck with our emotions. When you think about it, they have the power to make us panic, and that makes me want to panic. Or move to Canada.

So I actually think I've found a way to solve the above problem, and that is my new progression from the world of dicks to the world of chicks. One word: Tori. OMG I wanna get with this girl so badly!

What did I like the least?

The same thing that I liked the most about The Notebook Girls, is what I liked the least. The authenticity. I mean come on! They act and talk like high school students! There are only so many times the novelty of "spying" on the inner thoughts of teenagers while they partied, puked, got stoned, made out, got grounded, bullshitted about gossip, bitched about boys (or girls) or shared the "did you hear that so and so did this over the weekend" and "I can't believe that they are saying that I...." could last.

Plus because the notebook really appears to have been photocopied, the handwriting would shift, the drawings would blur, and the side margin notes were soooo tiny that even squinty made it difficult to read.

Do I recommend this book?

Overall, I would recommend this book. It's interesting because I can see why parents threw their hands up in the air and fought for this book to get on the banned book list. These kids did everything that a parent doesn't want their fourteen + year old to do. I read an article somewhere that the girls show that you can experiment and party while still making good grades. I think that's what scares parents the most. They don't want their kids to get that idea.

I'm sort of on the fence. I think that these girls are definitely the exception. There are plenty of students that try to lead the same sort of lifestyle but do not have the maturity, life goals, and quite honestly intelligence to follow in their footsteps. But I hardly think that this book should be banned because of that. (** I'd also like to mention that some of the girls alluded to the difficulty that their parents had initially with the publication of this book).

Who would I recommend this book to? Hardly not a middle schooler, but definitely an upper level and mature high schooler. I also think that it would be a fabulous book to read with your high school student as a parent. It might open up the lines of communication.

Also, anyone who is interested in a voyeuristic adventure should also check it out.


  1. I shall add this one to my list. I like books like this. I am interested to see your list for your Dangerous Read challenge. Banned books fascinate me.

  2. RYN: About my reading challenges...

    I keep track by Allconsuming, cause it is a joint effort with List of Bests I update in Allconsuming, and the list just updates itself. *thank god* LOLz

  3. Vivienne - I think the book definitely captures the essences of gifted high school students. I enjoyed it; but probably would read it in smaller dosages next time. :)

    Lisa - I loved that you posted all of those lists though! Very cool.


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