Double standards are an unpleasant reality of life 鈥 and it鈥檚 usually those who are subjected to them that notice. Behavioral requirements differ between races, genders,聽and sexualities; what鈥檚 considered appropriate or forgivable for those in power is punished, sometimes severely, for those who aren鈥檛. The three new books for teens in this week鈥檚 book club both recognize the double standards still regrettably present today and are having none of them. They point out the differences in how men and women are treated in an attempt to isolate and remedy the problem. We鈥檙e already hoping our teens will save the world; this is one good step.

1. The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan ($19): Kendall seemingly has very little to complain about. Although the mean girls in her group who rule her small Brooklyn private school don鈥檛 exactly keep their mouths shut, Kendall says, 鈥淚 heard no evil, saw no evil, and spoke no evil. I hadn鈥檛 rocked the high school boat.鈥 She鈥檚 also wealthy, white, and popular. Then, heading into her senior year, Kendall is discovered about to have sex, and not just any sex 鈥 she鈥檚 with her best friend Audrey鈥檚 ex-boyfriend Grant in the equipment cage of the school gym. You鈥檇 think both of them would suffer the same consequences, but Grant, who knew they would be discovered, weathers the storm intact and even lauded by his friends. It鈥檚 Kendall who is the new social pariah, and she begins to understand that her privilege doesn鈥檛 completely insulate her from society鈥檚 vicious double standards.

鈥淕rant had no reason to care. He wasn鈥檛 the one in trouble. On the contrary, Grant had been forgiven. Nobody even remembered that Audrey and Grant had in fact been broken up when our 鈥榓ffair鈥 happened. Before I had put the moratorium on social media, I saw the unofficial Facebook album announcing their reconciliation. It was called 鈥楾he Night Audrey and Grant鈥檚 Relationship Became Officially Inappropriate鈥 and contained a collection of portraits of her and Grant at the graduation party. The nine pictures told a story, but I only needed to see the first one: Grant kissing her high up on the cheekbone, arm slung around her waist; her leaning toward him, dark auburn hair hanging over his chest, smiling at the camera with an eyebrow raised. That was also the night I saw the picture of me in my underwear. I had logged out and hadn鈥檛 been back.鈥

It gets even worse than ostracism on the first day of school when Kendall gets knocked out in the bathroom by a girl she鈥檚 never seen. Seems someone has hacked into Kendall鈥檚 Facebook page and has associated her with drug dealers and even stealing drugs. Now, she鈥檚 suddenly firmly entrenched in the position of the 鈥渂ad girl.鈥 So she figures she鈥檒l play the role to the hilt, especially once drug dealer Mason blackmails her into being his delivery girl. She鈥檚 pissed off at how all the men she encounters are equally dismissive and possessive of her, and she thinks it might be time to solve the mystery, highlight the disparity, and start a revolution.

2. This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope ($15): 鈥淚 am told that the news of my brother鈥檚 birth spread to the south, to the east, and so far north that it crossed the border and went into Botswana, where it was welcomed joyously by aging and long-lost relatives鈥 son, in my mother鈥檚 family, had been in people鈥檚 wishes and prayers for many years.鈥 The women in Naledi鈥檚 South African family seemed 鈥渃ursed鈥 to only bear daughters until her mother finally had a son. Naledi鈥檚 brother Basimane was thus treated as practically royalty in her family; his birth described as 鈥渢he happiest day of all of our lives,鈥 while Naledi had to accept her existence as 鈥渘othing special.鈥

They come from the remote township of Marapong, where Basi grows up hanging out with the town boys, who, unsurprisingly, have far more freedom than the girls. When their father鈥檚 economic success allows them to move up in the world both figuratively and literally, Basi won鈥檛 stop spending time with his friends, even though they鈥檙e deemed 鈥渘ot classy鈥 enough for him by his parents. That鈥檚 not really the problem, though; the issue is that their newfound status and Basi鈥檚 elevated importance is leading him to treat women terribly, and he鈥檚 not getting called on it. Basi seems to crusade for social justice, but one night, Naledi sees him do something horrible that she can鈥檛 reconcile with the image of her brother. She doesn鈥檛 know if she should keep family loyalty or speak out against him 鈥 or if she鈥檒l even be believed if she does.

This Book Betrays My Brother deals with the nature of truth and perception, and whose claims are to be considered and believed, versus those less important and discredited: 鈥淭he thing about family history is that it all depends on the person you speak to. There may be agreements here and there, but the story you walk away with depends on what the person telling it wishes to reveal and, perhaps more importantly, not to reveal. I tend to file away what I am told in my head with a little note saying who told me the story鈥his is all a bit tricky when you are a child, of course. But you learn, as I have learned, to pick and choose your storytellers very, very carefully.鈥 Naledi has decided to tell her side of the story, to explain her brother and his actions. What the consequences of that may be are anybody鈥檚 guess.

3. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake ($18): Owen is Mara鈥檚 three-minute-older twin brother (or so he claims; she insists that the birth certificates are wrong). They go to the same high school with the same magnet arts program, though he鈥檚 a violinist and she鈥檚 in show choir. Owen and Mara are as close as two people who once shared a womb often are; they tease each other mercilessly, but ultimately they鈥檙e each other鈥檚 sounding board and each twin has the other鈥檚 back. Mara鈥檚 a little adrift at the moment. She鈥檚 recently come out as bisexual and dated her best friend Charlie (who鈥檚 nonbinary but uses female pronouns), and has to deal with 鈥渘othing but threesome jokes and passive-aggressive slut shaming every time I venture into the hallway.鈥 聽Then, she broke up with Charlie before things got too serious. Now Charlie鈥檚 not talking to her.

Owen鈥檚 currently dating Hannah, who鈥檚 become close to Mara by extension. Owen鈥檚 always been a good kid, 鈥渘ever so much as been tardy to a class, let alone skipped one,鈥 and is first chair violin of the orchestra. But his behavior changes when he鈥檚 at parties. 鈥淲hen he gets around his friends, he unfurls,鈥 says Mara. 鈥淚f you ask me, he acts like a total moron at these parties, but it鈥檚 how he unwinds. Beer and jokes and bass-addled music that you can feel pulsing in your toes and fingertips.鈥

It鈥檚 after one of these parties that the unthinkable happens: Hannah accuses Owen of raping her. Mara is a staunch feminist who started her school鈥檚 feminist club with the mantra to believe survivors of sexual assault. Now, she faces a terrible internal conflict, as well as the resurgence of PTSD from a previous traumatic experience. She鈥檚 pulled between two sides: Her mother and a large number of classmates declare their support for Owen, while the feminist club is completely behind Hannah. Mara gets to see the double standards in a 鈥渉e said, she said鈥 rape case up close, all complicated by her love for her brother and the terrible realization that nothing is as straightforward as we want it to be.

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