Want to Go Private?

Want to Go Private?

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Want to Go Private?
Genre(s)
Age Range
14+
Release Date
August 01, 2011
ISBN
978-0545151467
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Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.

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.

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(Updated: September 13, 2011)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0

One Scary Read

When I heard Sarah Darer Littman speak to her readers via video chat last winter, I wanted to get my hands on WANT TO GO PRIVATE? immediately. She spoke about a recent news story where the police rescued a teen girl from an Internet predator before they crossed the Canadian border. Only, the thing is, the teen girl didn't see it as a rescue. She had *wanted* to go with the guy, claiming she was in love with him. Sarah said she wondered what would have to happen for a teenager to get to that point -- the point of climbing into a car with a complete stranger and running away with him.

Willingly.

I tried to answer that question myself. I racked my brain and played out dozens of different scenarios in my mind, but I still couldn't understand why a teen girl would agree to meet a stranger she met online. All I could come up with was that she must have been stupid. A smart girl would never do something like that.

That news story compelled Sarah to find out as well. Through conversations with the police and FBI, she found out it wasn't stupidity at all.

Her extensive research led to WANT TO GO PRIVATE?, an in-depth and horrifyingly realistic look into the life of a 14-year-old girl named Abby. By the end of the book, I understood why Abby made the decisions she did. I didn't agree with them, but I understood them. And I no longer think a girl who gets tangled with an Internet predator is stupid. I know now that she's a victim of one of the worst cons on earth.

Sarah weaves a striking and believable teenage world. Abby's just starting her freshman year of high school. Everything is new. Her BFF Faith is making new friends and is involved in new things, like the school play. Abby isn't big on acting--she faints whenever she's in front of a crowd--and she doesn't really like Faith's new buddy, Grace. And the boy situation? Let's just say, it's every bit as confusing as REAL life.

Abby's parents are supposed to be a safe haven for her: the people who love her and listen to her. But they're too busy to notice how alone and scared she feels, just starting high school. She'd love to talk to them about what's bothering her, but they always find a way to brush her off. And Faith hanging out with her new friend Grace all the time isn't helping matters either.

So Abby logs on to ChezTeen.com to interact with other kids her age online. She meets Luke, a cute older guy who likes all the same music she does, and takes the time to listen to her problems. After a couple of weeks, she feels like she and Luke are soul mates. Then after a couple of months, she feels like she's in love.

And she's ready to meet him.

WANT TO GO PRIVATE? shows us exactly how Internet predators "groom" their victims without being preachy. This is a book you'll invest in--not only because the message is so important, but because you'll find yourself truly caring about the characters.

Most of the book is told from Abby's point of view, but after Part 1, we get to hear from her friends and her sister, Lily. This was my favorite aspect of the book. I liked seeing how Abby's decisions affected her friends and family, and how they had to cope with it. We often forget how much our choices affect those we love. I also liked seeing what teens like Abby must go through to heal after mistakes like hers are made. Healing takes time, but the pain from being an Internet predator victim never goes away. This is something every teen should have in the forefront of their mind whenever they log online: The memories and the affects are life-long. They can never be erased.

Will you want to shout at Abby and tell her not to make all the horrible decisions she makes? Yes. Dozens of times. But that won't stop you from reading and discovering how incredibly *simple* it is for Internet predators to con you, your best friend, or your child.

This is one of the most important books I've ever read. It left me shattered, humbled, and horrified. I still can't stop thinking about it. A must-have for every library. Highest of recommendations.

Good Points
This is one of those books every teen should read.
Darer Littman paints a horrifying and realistic portrait of teen life.
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Powerful yet disturbing

this is a very powerful book. it confronts the online dating issue head on and when i picked it up it kind of looked harmless but it is so much more in in-depth than what it appears to be. it also points out that child pornography does go on and it is a matter that schools seriously need to address at a young age. although highly disturbing i would recommend it to young teens as it gets the point across very clearly that you should never trust things at face value

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Powerful book where I was sympathetic to the main character.

I completely connected with the main character of Want to go Private? Abby is such a smart girl, and doesn't have the confidence or the popularity. She is pretty and smart, but she doesn't see herself that way. I have always had self esteem problems and I saw so much of myself in her. So when a guy, online starts telling her she is beautiful and worth it, she listens. I can see how easy it would be to fall into this trap. I mean, we all know about online predators, and that we can't give out our personal information. But she gets to know him, he asks her questions, remembers details of her day, and most of all makes her feel special. So, little by little, she gives more to him. Her address, because he wants to give her presents, and taking off her shirt, because it all of the sudden doesn't seem like a big deal. He thinks she is beautiful after all, right? This is the guy who listens and understands how she doesn't feel like she fits in at high school. He is the guy that sees beauty in her where people at school she might as well be invisible.
I can see her getting more and more obsessed with Luke and being by her computer. It is so hard to watch her giving up things in real life, friends and grades, all because she is addicted to Luke, to feeling special, to being his girl. I so wished that the story could have gone differently... That she didn't isolate herself from her best friend since 2nd grade Faith, or cute and flirty while very nerdy Billy. She just didn't realize what was in front of her.
Speaking of Faith and Billy. I loved the secondary characters in this book. Their depth and kindness and sincerity. Faith is not perfect.. she doesn't realize that Abby feels left behind when they all of the sudden don't have classes together, and Abby feels replaced by a new friend, Grace and the drama club that Faith joins. But Faith loves Abby, and is and has been there for her. And Billy is so sweet, nerdy and funny. I LOVE characters like him. He isn't broody, or super hot, he is a normal sweet guy who sees the good in Abby, that she is pretty and funny, and smart but he has been too shy until it was too late and she was wrapped up in Luke.
I did not want to put this book down, and I kept rooting for Abby to open her eyes, and wishing that I could pad the ground for her for her inevitable fall into danger.
I also really appreciated the other pov and what it brought to the book. It really showed how others saw Abby and how it effected them.

Bottom Line: Powerful book where I was sympathetic to the main character.

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Want To Go Private? (A Room with Books review)

This book has some serious HOLY WOW going for it. Chances are after reading the synopsis you're thinking to yourself about cheesy this book is likely to be. I mean, we all know about internet safety, right? Well, I'm here to tell you just how completely wrong you are.

When Abby started getting caught up with Luke my brain was having some issues. It was like I was split down the middle and one half was saying "don't do it, Abby! Can't you see who he is?!" and the other completely understood every one of Abby's thoughts and actions. Most of us have gone through that completely sucky insecure stage of our lives -- your parents hate and don't understand you, you're losing a friend or don't think you have any, and none of the opposite sex notices you at all -- and that's precisely where Abby is. Along comes this caring, sweet guy who always listens. What would you have done?

I feel like this book should be bought and handed out at Internet Safety talks instead pamphlets. Yeah, there are some pretty stark things in here that adults will likely balk at and for this reason will likely try to keep it out of kids hands. I wouldn't be surprised to see this one on a banned book list next year. But guys. These are the facts. The serious, gritty, scary facts. And you know what? Abby is fourteen and that's an age that is highly susceptible to these types of, for lack of a better word, attacks. I just want to buy a million copies of this book and hand it out to teens all over the place. Want to Go Private is a book that really should be required reading in schools.

(minor spoiler)
I loved that you got to see the "After." That's something you never see in crime dramas, but it was an integral part of the story. Tv often gives the impression that the girl is saved and there's a happily ever after for everyone, but Want to Go Private proves that this isn't the case at all. Abby was left with so many feelings and emotions after the whole mess. And it wasn't only Abby, but we saw how this affected everyone around her.
(end spoiler)


Final Thoughts: This book was a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes it was really hard to read, but I'm so glad I did. I honestly wish this book was required reading in schools. It would give kids a look at something very real and very scary. Please don't pass this book up because you think you already know everything about the subject or think it sounds a bit cheesy.
Thank you, Sarah, for writing such an amazing book

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