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The Ruling Class & The Girls [Aug. 6th, 2005|11:50 am]


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Maybe you’ve missed the books Odd Girl Out and Teen Queens & Wanabees. Perhaps you saw something else when Mean Girls was in the theaters. Or maybe you’re just a guy. If you fall into any of these categories, then you may be unaware of the hidden culture of girls, a deep secret we hide. Girls are evil. We have a hidden culture of aggression towards each other. We will be smiley to a girl one moment, the next, insulting her behind her back. Our best friend one day, will be our worst enemy next.

Every female does this and they never grow out of it. However, it is worse during the teen years, where it seems that one must either eat or be eaten. As displayed in Mean Girls, the girl world is a deep, multilayered world. We don’t fight battles with fists, but rather with world.

Of course, this new realization of the girl world leads to a different type of young adult novels. Girls in these worlds no longer just deal with the pain of strict parents or a new crush, but the simple pain of just living in the girl world.

Francine Pascal is no stranger to the girl world, having her name featured on the many Sweet Valley High books. If written today, Jessica Wakefield may be viewed differently, not as a popular, mischievous cheerleader, but a cut throat bully. She most likely would have been the character Jeanette Sue in Pascal’s most recent novel, The Ruling Class. Jeanette Sue is the ring leader of the clique nicknamed the Ruling Class, surrounded by equally snobby rich girls. At their wealthy upper class high school in Dallas’ Highland Park, they are the girls everyone fears but the one’s everyone wants to be a part of. Myrna Fry is one of those girls, desperate to join the Ruling Class and foolishly thinking that she already has. She is ‘best friends’ with Jeanette Sue, or JS, as she affectingly refers to her, rewriting every negative thing Jeanette Sue says or does to her in a positive way.

Myrna’s delusion is not realistic. It is hard to believe that anyone would lie to themselves this much or lower their self respect as much as Myrna has. Then again, there is not much realistic about this book. Jeanette Sue is a one decisional villain, with no insight into why she is the way she is or why she even has such a hold over people.

Even our heroine, Twyla Gay Stark, is unrealistic. A poor girl that just happens to end up in the rich school, the reader is supposed to believe that Twyla Gay is the only poor student at the school. Everyone else, even the losers, are rich. Hard to believe, but lets just go with it. She is the new girl in town, and Jeanette Sue instantly feels the need to destroy her. Why? Because she is just evil. Oh, and Twyla Gay has attracted the attention of Jeanette Sue’s sometime boyfriend Ryder McQuaid. However, in this I sympathize with Jeanette Sue. One moment he is dancing with her, the next he’s flirting with Twyla Gay. It would have been nice, if in the end, Jeanette Sue and Twyla Gay teamed up to reveal him for the two timing loser he is. That is not to be though.

In the end, Jeanette Sue gets her just desserts and Twyla Gay becomes everything she hated. I believe we’ve learned this lesson before.

The Ruling Class gives us no new insight into the mind of a “mean” girl. Jeanette Sue is just bad, Myrna is just desperate to join, and Twyla Gay is just innocent. We’re not sure why Jeanette Sue is mean to everyone, just that she is. We are just supposed to except that some girls are mean. That said, The Ruling Class is a fluff read, enjoyable, and a quick way to past a lazy afternoon. Just don’t expect too much.

While Pascal looks at the world of mean girls in high school, Amy Goldman Koss looks at it from a middle school point of view. In her novel,The Girls, Koss is a little more in-depth with her characters and their motives. This clique is ruled by Candence, a girl with nothing special about her, but her simple presence. Adults see this, but her peers can not. Darcy is Candence’s best friend, a girl who is use to seeing girls come and go in their group. She never stops to realize that she may be next. While Candence decides who stays and who goes, Darcy is the one who carries out the orders. This way, Darcy is seen as the nasty bitch instead of Candence. The clique is rounded out by Renee, whose parents have recently separated, Brianna, a talented actress with book smart parents, and Maya, a normal girl from a normal family.

It is Maya that Candence decides needs to leave. She is simply not what Candence thought she would be. Candence is fascinated by mysterious girls and quickly disappointed when she finds there is no mystery. Maya is one such case. The other girls accept this with no argument, knowing that if they do, they may be next. Darcy, to prove her best friend status, carries out the actual teasing. What follows Maya’s dismissal is an entire break down of these girls’ culture and nothing is the same afterwards.

The Girls suffer from the fact that it is too short. Koss as well developed characters, but she doesn’t give them the space they need to grow. The events in the book take place over three days – very unrealistic.

As hard as it to be a girl, it is not as rough as people would like one to believe. Most girls make it through middle and high school without having to deal with events like these. That said, I would not like to do it over again.