Myracle, Lauren. ttyl. Amulet Books, 2004. 209p. Grades 6-12. Realistic Fiction.
Maddie, Angela, and Zoe are tenth graders and best friends who promise to not let the trials and tribulations of adolescence split up their “winsome threesome.” Spanning the first three months of the girls’ sophomore year and told completely in Instant Messenger format, ttyl realistically and humorously shows the boyfriend drama, bad choices, school cliques, and difficult decisions these girls face as they navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of high school.
Thoughts- ttyl is a fun, frothy book that I found to be almost compulsively readable. The IM format (similar to the e-mail epistolary novels written by Meg Cabot) propels the plot along at a rapid-fire pace and the familiar tropes of realistic teen fiction (Queen Bees, partying, difficult parents) make for an easy read. Maddie, Angela, and Zoe are all fairly stock characters (Maddie is the mouthy, rebellious one, Angela the semi-insecure flirt obsessed with clothes, and Zoe is the nerdy good girl), but Myracle does give each girl her own voice—easily distinguishable in the IM exchanges—and the story arcs of each girl are equally important and well-defined. Although I know there has been much controversy surrounding ttyl, I admit that I am hard-pressed to truly understand it. Yes, the girls have frank discussions about sex, their bodies, and alcohol, but these discussions are all fairly benign. Yes, the girls sometimes make bad decisions, but they definitely learn from them. Adults might be shocked by some of the language used, but I think they would agree with most of the conclusions drawn in the end.
I enjoyed reading ttyl but found it to be fairly lightweight; for me, it seems like pure escapist literature. I do think, however, that it would be hugely appealing to teenagers for a number of reasons—it is funny, easy to read, true to the teen experience, and designed specifically with young adults in mind. I do worry, though, that it has become a little dated since its debut in 2004. The pop culture references, descriptions of clothing/hairstyles/makeup, and use of technology are all somewhat outdated at this point, and teens have a keen eye for that sort of detail. Perhaps they might read it (as I did with Judy Blume’s Forever…) with a little whiff of nostalgia for a time before everyone had a smart phone and Facebook was just a twinkle in Mark Zuckerburg’s eye.