Life by Committee is a fun, smart, and moving read with every delicious ingredient-romance, secrets, and unexpected twists. Assignment: Read this one.
(Not so) Secret: I immediately fell in love with Corey Ann Haydu’s wonderful, fresh story about truth, love, and bravery. Your assignment: Read Life by Committee immediately!
Looking for a book to read and discuss? This is it.
An authentic, heartfelt read about the power of truth and the beauty of self-discovery.
Life has gotten weird for 16-year-old Tabitha. Her parents are expecting a baby and fighting about her father’s pot use; her best friend dumped her when a late puberty surge put Tabitha in the “hot” column; and she’s flirting with a guy who has a girlfriend. This is all happening in a small Vermont town where everyone knows everyone, and the whole school has a stake in the opposites-attract relationship between Joe, the jock Tabitha likes, and his girlfriend, an arty, sad-girl type. Then Tabitha discovers the website Life by Committee. Its anonymous members trade in secrets, and their M.O. is escalation: tell a secret, get an assignment, then repeat. Tabitha reveals that she kissed Joe, and her assignment is to do it again. Haydu (OCD Love Story) gets at the push-pull between wanting to keep and to divulge secrets, as well as the way that anatomy can feel like destiny. While the school-wide obsession with Joe’s girlfriend seems overstated, Haydu keeps a multi-strand plot moving, and the climax, a kind of 12-step meeting meets high-school assembly, is cathartic. Ages 14–up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider. (May)
Gr 9 Up—Tabitha has hit puberty, gaining new curves, and has gotten a little boy crazy. Her best friends, feeling she has changed too radically, have dropped her cold. Her young parents are sympathetic but also slightly embarrassing, especially her pot-smoking father. Searching for friendship, she stumbles onto an online community called Life by Committee that makes her feel brave and a part of something. LBC members share secrets and are given assignments by the group's leader, tasks they say will help one grow as a person. Tabitha's secret is that she kissed someone else's boyfriend. Her assignment is to kiss him again. The teen starts to wonder if performing these dares, even though they make her feel free-spirited, is any way to live her life. Haydu captures the wild emotions of adolescence: the surging hormones, the power of getting people to pay attention because of your body, and the confusion over how that makes you feel. The narrative includes plenty of current teen concerns: online safety, gay friends, first love and sexual experience, drugs, sibling jealousy, and school achievement pressure—all culminating in a final scene pulled straight from the movies. The message about being your own person and making your own choices can be a bit heavy-handed, but readers who are avidly involved in social media communities will relate to the thrill of confessing secrets to strangers, rather than friends and family.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
Sixteen-year-old Tabitha has a secret. She kissed someone else's boyfriend, and she liked it. And with the encouragement of a secret, online committee, she just might do it again. Fans of Haydu's OCD Love Story (2013) will once again bear witness to a female protagonist hurling herself headfirst into a social train wreck of her own creation. Tabitha is an avid reader and gifted student whose burgeoning sexuality resulted in her two best friends' unceremoniously breaking up with her over the summer. It isn't helping either matters or her reputation now that she has a not-so-secret crush on a classmate's boyfriend. The lure of those forbidden feelings proves impossible to resist despite her conscience. When Tabitha discovers Life by Committee, an anonymous online community where members share their secrets and are given "assignments" designed to empower them to live big or go home, it becomes increasingly difficult for Tabitha to discern right from wrong. In this brave new world of social media, the story's premise makes for an intriguing, though at times incredibly uncomfortable, read. The online community comes across as cultlike, and it's hard to watch Tabitha's increasingly costly choices. For readers who can stomach the ride, it's a novel that will leave them thinking. Looking for a book to read and discuss? This is it. (Fiction. 14-18)