ttyl by Lauren Myracle

🙃 🤗 😂

ttyl tells the story of three high school best friends— Angela (SnowAngel), Zoe (zoegirl), and Maddie (mad maddie)— as they navigate adolescence together. The entire book is written in instant messages between the girls as they talk about boys and school and the choices they make that shape their personal identities.

I’ve seen the book ttyl in the Young Adult section of bookstores for years, but I always acted snobby and too good to read a neon pink book written in all instant messages. It was assigned to us for one of my classes this semester and I think I finished it in two days. I carried it everywhere with me and then hid it in copies of F. Scott Fitzgerald novels in the cafeteria and on the bus.

The novel has been banned often in schools. We talked about this in my class, about why in the world these books would be seen as that controversial. Our final decision? It shows high school girls talking about sex. Because how dare a high school girl think about sex! High school girls would never think about sex, right?

“Do girls really act like this?” a boy in our class asked. “Would a girl really get that upset because her friend wasn’t responding to her message?”

Every girl in our class immediately yelled “yes!”

ttyl understands girls. It understands the embarrassing parts of being a girl, the strong parts of being a girl, the real parts of being a girl. Boys talk about how they can never understand what is happening in the mind of girls, a female classmate explained, but they don’t try to use one of the best tools available—literature. Why don’t boys read more books about girls? And then, honestly, why don’t girls read more books about girls?

At that point, I felt really called out. Why did I have to hide ttyl inside an old white male (I love F. Scott Fitzgerald with all my heart, this is not a slight at him) book? Why does my value as an intellectual or a writer or an academic decrease because I’m reading a book with a pink cover? Is this some sad literary form of internalized misogyny? Absolutely.

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who hid my copy of ttyl when I read it. One classmate even admitted that he only read the book in his basement. But he said he enjoyed the book. I enjoyed this book (I’m legitimately going to read the rest of the series over the summer because I’m so interested in what happens to Angela, Zoe, and Maddie). So can’t a good book just be a good book? High school girls aren’t my typical reading topic, but if I find an entertaining, well-written piece of writing that happens to revolve around high school girls, why wouldn’t I read it?

Book Cover Source:

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