Happy Friday, guys!
So do you ever have one of those moments where you read a book, and then wonder why you waited so long to get into this book?
I absolutely had one of those moments with In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman. It's a thoughtful, layered study of teenaged life in a technology-heavy world, and how public exposure forces reexamination of life priorities.
Expected publication: October 11th 2016 by Scholastic Press
Format read: ARC via publisher
Sammy's struggles, thoughts and growth will help young readers examine the own priorities in their digital and real lives, and how they choose to approach the world around them.
With a few white lies, some killer flirting, and tons of practice, Sammy's got things covered. That is, until the bank her dad works for is attacked by hacktivists who manage to steal everything in the Wallach family's private cloud, including Sammy's entire digital life. Literally the whole world has access to her emails, texts, photos, and, worst of all, journal.
Life. Is. Over.
Now Sammy's best friends are furious about things she wrote, Jamie thinks she's desperate, and she can barely show her face at school. Plus, her parents know all the rules she broke. But Sammy's not the only one with secrets -- her family has a few of its own that could change everything. And while the truth might set you free, no one said it was going to be painless. Or in Sammy's case, private.
Littman introduces us to Samantha "Sammy" Wallace, a high school junior who is looking forward to a typical end of the year - prom; hanging out with friends and (gulp!) AP exams. But when activists target both her dad's bank and her family, Sammy finds herself caught up in hacking scandal on a scale that she never imagined...
The first thing that readers should know about In Case You Missed It, is that it's so much more than a tale of internet privacy. While the idea of internet exposure does form the crux of Sammy's struggles, Littman actually digs deeply into the idea of the role of technology, and how deeply it's initially ingrained in Sammy's day-to-day life.
Littman thoughtfully points out that Sammy, and teens like Sammy, are now very much defined by social approval and also by the greater void of the internet, as well. While most internet interaction can be fairly innocuous, e.g. a group to decide prom dresses, it can sometimes also backfire - as Sammy's friend finds out, when she turns down a prom date.
Consequently, when Sammy's family's private cloud is exposed, it literally has every detail and every thought that Sammy's family has ever shared digitally. But while the initial fallout is as horrific as Sammy has imagined, she begins to learn that there are some blessings that come with public exposure.
Littman is careful to have Sammy dissect the prejudices that she's mused about privately - e.g. references to her friend's culture - and moreover, how her isolation via public devices, has prevented her from learning some very set truths about her family. While Sammy doesn't outright renounce technology - and rightly so; as it would have been deeply unrealistic - the exposure, in many ways, gives her the strength, voice and motivation to challenge much of the status quo.
The hacking scandal also helps Sammy challenge certain aspects of sexism, which Littman writes with detail and grace. Sammy has the strength to call out her father on his mistakes revealed in the emails, and the end result is humbling, and a great reminder on how this unfortunate incident has helped Sammy to grow.
While it seems clichéd to say that Sammy comes through this scandal by learning the silver lining of every cloud - it's true. She learns her internal strengths, her true friends, while also admitting her own faults and still enjoying what it means to be a high school student. It's a lot to unpack in a novel, but absolutely worth every moment.
Sarah Darer Littman transforms a tale about one girl's experience with internet privacy, into a profound look at the role and relationship that technology has in our day-to-day lives. Littman challenges us to see technology's role as being a tool and a hindrance, and asks us, vis-a-vis Sammy's journey, to reshape our perceptions and prejudices.
Though In Case You Missed It is a relatively short tale at approximately 300+ pages, Sammy's journey is an important one. Readers of all ages will relate to her experiences, but younger readers will especially identify with her revelations and understandings in a world where all of her secrets have now been exposed.
Highly recommend, full stop.
About the author:
Sarah Darer Littman is the critically acclaimed author of Backlash; Want to Go Private?; Life, After; Purge; and Confessions of a Closet Catholic, winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. When she's not writing novels, Sarah is an award-winning columnist for the online site CT News Junkie. She teaches creative writing as an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University and with Writopia Lab. Sarah lives in Connecticut. You can visit her online at sarahdarerlittman.com.