Title: Harsh Pink: Color Me Burned
Author: Melody Carlson
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult
Genre: Christian Chick Lit
# Of pages: 215
Year of Release: 2007
Part of a Series? Yes, 12 of 13 in the True Colors Series
Rating: 3 (View Scale) Highly Recommended
Description: from book jacket: So much for blending in. After moving with her mom from their hometown of Boston, Reagan Mercer is just trying to fit in at her new high school. By winning a coveted spot on the cheerleading squad, Reagan accidentally bumps popularity poster child Kendra Farnsworth from the lineup and makes a new A-list enemy. Life at home isn't much better as Reagan struggles to deal with her grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. Things begin to look up after Kendra decides to play nice and make Reagan a part of her elite crew. But Reagan finds that acceptance has a steep price, as her new friends make life miserable for anyone who gets in their way. And after a tragic accident and drinking party gone too far, can Reagan still make the right choice?
Review: From backstabbing to nasty pranks, you’ll find all the cattiness of a typical teenage clique book but this one has a conscience. Many teenage girls will be able to relate in some way to the characters Carlson has created in the book. And the best part is the main character is a mean girl. It was enlightening to see the course Reagan Mercer travels along the way from being a backstabber and a push over to finally accepting responsibility for the mess she’s had a hand in creating. This is an exceptional book to show the consequences of seeking popularity above all else with a sound gospel message to back it up.
Rating: 3 for underage drinking (see recommendation)
Positive: At first, Harsh Pinkseems to follow the same lines as many of it’s counterparts like The A-List and The Clique. And just when you think you’ve had enough of the cattiness, Reagan’s conscience steps in and through the help of a friend she once shunned she’s able to do the right thing.
Spiritual Elements: Reagan considers herself as non-religious although she feels her take on life would be most similar to Buddhism in that she tries to even out her mistakes with good deeds. However, Christ’s love and grace are presented to her through the character of Andrea Lynch in a clear and non-threatening way.
Violence: Andrea shares with Reagan that a friend died of asphyxiation from playing the choking game.
Language: One girl curses on more than one occasion but no bad language is spelled out.
Sexual Content: none
Other: Most the girls are appearance driven and would quickly shun a friend to get ahead. Even Reagan’s mother sets a bad example of putting appearances above family. But, Kendra Farnsworth is the worst when she leads the other cheerleaders in a prank that humiliates another member of the squad and literally exposes her in front of a stadium of cheering fans.
Underage drinking is a large part of the plot, and Reagan and her friends attend two unsupervised parties where alcohol is present. Although Reagan is against drinking, she succumbs to peer-pressure and accepts a drink. Some of Reagan’s friends become intoxicated at the parties and (Spoiler Warning) later one girl in particular pays a high price and almost loses her life.
Recommendation: Although clique-type books are not high on my list of recommendations, Harsh Pinkdefinitely stands out by outlining the harsh realities of seeking popularity above all else and succumbing to peer-pressure. Carlson also weaves some serious topics into the storyline like the choking game and underage drinking but sheds light on the downsides of making these often life-threatening choices. I would highly recommend the series to teenage girls 12 and up and would encourage parental follow-up on the topics discussed in the books.