Title: Girl Parts
Author: John M. Cusick
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2010.
David and Charlie attend the same school but couldn't be more different. David has lots of friends, is rich, and spends his time surfing the 'net on his special 3-monitor computer (each monitor feeds off the other one. If he's looking at a website about cars on the first monitor, the second one will show him websites about engines, and the third will show him websites with scantily clad women. It is the definition of information overload.) He's so virtually connected he feels no real connection to people. He witnesses a girl commit suicide on the internet and never once thinks he should try to stop it or feels bad about it at all.
Charlie doesn't have any friends, is not rich, and spends his time doing puzzles and crosswords and doesn't even have a computer. Charlie is not as callous as David, but he has a hard time talking and relating to people as well. He would rather be alone than try to make small talk. But he's a decent person when it counts.
Both David and Charlie are diagnosed with "dissociative disorder" by the new school counselor. The treatment is called a "Companion." Companions are robots--all girls--supposed to teach the young boys how to get to know another person. David thinks he's hit the jackpot when a beautiful red haired companion arrives in a box in his driveway, but much to his dismay he is given an electric shock any time he tries to touch her before her "intimacy clock" says it's okay. Charlie refuses the treatment.
I gobbled this book up. On the surface it's a funny book about a sex-crazed boy (David) who can't score with his robot and unwittingly pushes her into the arms of another boy (Charlie). But there's so much more to the story--today's obsession with the internet and social media and how teens (and adults) can have hundreds of friends online but not have a single person in real life to confide in and talk to; gender identity and how girls are more than just their "girl parts" and not all boys are sex-crazed. Girl Parts is one of those books that can be read for fun, but is also a really important book to be read. It's a logical book group choice because of all of the different discussion points it raises. Boys might initially be turned off by the title and the girl on the cover, but it's an important book for them to read as well. They may need a little more hand-selling, but once they open it up they won't be disappointed.
I'm an Amazon Associate now. If you click on the Amazon links & buy anything I might make a tiny bit of money.