A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl
By Tanya Lee Stone
About the Book:
Tanya Lee Stone explores relationships between one boy and the three girls he targets for attention. In each section, a girl explores her relationship not only with this “bad boy” but with her own body, her choices, and ultimately, herself.
About this Guide:
This guide includes discussion questions and projects intended to extend the use of the novel into classrooms, book clubs, and literature circles. It should promote discussion on the themes of the novel including betrayal, relationships, sexuality, friendship, self discovery and self identity.
- How did you get the original idea for A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl?
The title came to me first; I remember very clearly scribbling it in my notebook on a slant and underlining it three times. As soon as I saw it in black and white, I knew what themes I wanted to explore. Next came the voice of Josie, although she did not yet have a name.
- Was it difficult to delve into those exciting yet tortured feelings of young love?
It wasn’t difficult, but it did make me feel very full—of emotion, memory, new insight, past hurt—full of so many things at once. It really fueled the writing.
- What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope the book makes readers introspective about aspects of love and relationships, that they think about who they are, who they want to be, what is right for them. I also hope it sparks group discussions to extend the conversation about love and sex; get people talking about their experiences—past, present, and future. I really hope it resonates with women of all ages, since most of us have had at least one experience with a relationship that taught us something new about ourselves.
4. What do you wish young women knew about themselves?
I wish they believed that they can trust themselves. That they can listen to their own voice and not doubt it so much. Make mistakes and still be okay. Sometimes you have to take a misstep in order to learn what the right next step for yourself is. Following your own gut and instincts will always serve you better than following someone else’s lead.
- What are you working on next?
A YA novel (in prose, this time) about two girls who find out they are more alike than they ever would have believed.
- Discuss the title of the novel. Do you agree with it? Why or why not? How did this bad boy end up being “good” for each girl in the novel? Can you know a guy’s intentions by the way he treats you? What are the signs that you might be being played?
- Josie admits that “lately/I don’t have as tight a grip/on my confidence.” Do you think this affected her actions? How? How can a girl keep her confidence up in tough situations like being a freshman?
- Josie says, “It’s pretty amazing/to find out new things about yourself/when you think you already know every inch/of your own personal landscape.” (p. 79) What did she learn? What can you learn from her?
- Nicolette believes that sex is power. The power to decide who, what, when, and where. That moment when a boy wants to be with her and nowhere else is intoxicating for Nicolette. Do you agree? How do you think attitudes have changed over time about sex? Is this a modern notion? Would your mother agree with Nicolette’s opinions? Your grandmother? Is sex a type of power? If so, who has it?
- Nicolette asks herself if she is called a whore because she likes sex or because she does it too much. Boys, she notices, are never called whores. Why do you think this double standard persists in the culture? Do you think it will ever change? When?
- Predict how Nicolette will act with boys from now on. Will this change her? How?
- Both Aviva and Josie end up ditching their girlfriends for the new guy. What do you think of their actions? How can you keep your friends and have a new boyfriend? How do you balance the old with the new?
- Both Nicolette and Aviva believe what they are feeling is love. But like Kristen tells Aviva, “…we call it making love, they don’t.” Do you agree with her? Why do you think girls make this connection between love and sex?
- Aviva takes a lot of inspiration from music and their lyrics. Which music speaks directly to you? Why? How can it help you live a better life?
- Aviva is disappointed that her first time won’t be a great memory. Do you think it’s possible to have a great memory for losing your virginity? Is it always awkward and regrettable? Have you ever met anyone who thought that it was terrific?
- Compare the actions of the three girls. What can you learn from each of them? Who do you feel most sorry for? Why? Who do you relate to the most?
- Each of the girls begins to lose their own identity as they become wrapped up in this all encompassing relationship. Josie has to concentrate to remember her own favorite things, Nicolette loses her veneer of control, and Aviva lets him call her by a name she hates. Is this letting go of yourself in a relationship inevitable? Can it be prevented? How?
- The author never names the boy who has wreaked such havoc on these young women’s lives. Why do you think she made this decision? What percentage of young men do you think treat women in this way? Do young women hold any responsibility for it? How much?
- It’s inevitable that a book with issues of sexuality will be challenged by censorship. How can reading a book like this prevent a girl from making the same mistakes as its characters? What have you personally learned by reading about Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva?
- Forever, a classic young adult novel by Judy Blume, plays a key role in the book. How can books change people? Have you or will you read that novel as well? How do you think it will be similar or different from this one?
- Describe the chain of events between the star jock and his attempted conquests of Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva.
- What is the R.L.D.? Who uses it?
- How do the girls share their experiences about the star jock so others don’t become victims?
- Who does Nicolette turn to after the boy breaks her heart?
- Who do you think changed the most in the novel? Defend your answer!
Find a piece of music that you think would work as a great theme song for each character whose lyrics and music represent her story best. In a short journal explain your choice.
Continue the novel by writing Kristen’s story in the breathless free verse style that Tanya Lee Stone does.
Create a piece of art with this theme: My Body, My Choice. Use any media you prefer.