Blasberg, D. (2010). Classy. New York, NY: Razorbill.
Plot Summary: This is a modern etiquette guide for young women. The book starts with a chapter on how to dress appropriately for various occasions. This is followed by chapters on how to attend and throw parties, how to travel and how to find love. One of the best chapters deals with how a lady faces temptation and offers advice on not drinking to excess or doing drugs. The book ends with a chapter on learning that discusses both traditional education as well as broadening horizons and being pop culture savvy. The book has an over the top sense of humor throughout and references a lot of celebrities teens will know.
Critical Evaluation: The main flaw of this book is the over the top sense of humor the book does refer to the women who serve as the examples of what not to do as tramps or skanks which offends some readers. Others see this a just part of the appeal of the book and appreciate the over the top stereotypes of what not to do. Personally, I do not like the fact that the author uses terms that demean women but I appreciate then when he uses realistic examples of bad behavior he drops the shaming language. So a reader going through the book may identify with some of the bad behavior in the book (and hopefully be inspired to change) but would not actually identify with the tramp caricatures. While the book does not have the best delivery it does offer some really great advice. The book is anti-smoking, anti-drinking to excess, anti-drinking and driving, anti-nude picture, and anti-drug use in a way that separates it from parental lectures or health class scares into an approachable dialogue about the health and social risk of such behaviors. This humorous approach to sensitive topics may be a better way to get through to some teens. The book also offers plenty of practical advice about being a good guest or hostess and shining in any occasion that can help teens confidently face unfamiliar experiences.
Reader’s Annotation: This over the top funny guide offers real advice on how to be a perfect lady and not a tramp in a variety of social situations.
Author Information: Derek Blasberg is a fashion writer and current editor at large of Harpers Bazaar, V Magazine, and VMAN. Classy is his first book and a New York Times Best Seller.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Overall do you think this is good advice you can apply to your life?
2) How do you feel about the classification of some of the women in the book as Tramps?
Reading Level & Interest Level: Barnes and Noble lists the age range for this book as 12 years which seems to young for me. I would say this book is better suited to readers who are at least 14 and would be more likely to actually recommend the book to readers aged 16 and up. This seem more appropriate to the subject matter as well as younger readers will most likely be less concerned with many of these issues.
Challenge Issues: The book may be challenged due to the language used in the book. However, this language is clearly meant to be taken in a humorous way. Further the book overall has a very positive message and encourages teens to stay away from drugs, smoking, drinking and driving, taking nude photos, and other major issues. If this book will get through to teens about the dangers of such behaviors where parents and teachers may not then it has proved its worth. The book also has many positive ratings and was a New York Times best seller.
Why is it included?: This book is problematic in several ways but is also really funny and clever in the advice it gives out. It offers many good life lessons as well as good practical advice for new social situations. I think that there are many teens that can benefit from the book overall so despite its imperfections and depending on the sense of humor of your library comunity this may be a very worth while addition to the library collection.