Author: John M. Cusick
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Plot Summary: Girl Parts begin with a teenaged girl setting up a web camera, consuming a large amount of sleeping pills, and going to bed, in effect, committing suicide and capturing it on her video blog. This online death affects the entire community, especially the life of David Sun, one of the most popular kids in school. David's family believes he has a dissociative disorder due to his lack of real emotion regarding a fellow teen's death, and order a Sakora Companion for him. When she arrives, Rose is gorgeous despite her robotic and jerky motions. Soon, she becomes more lifelike, despite her ability to deliver electric shocks if David is inappropriate. While he first is wary of Rose, he soon comes to love her and spending time with her, rushing home from school to be with her. It only is when they go to a party when he realizes something about Rose, and leaves her alone, going home with another girl. Rose, with nowhere to go, is saved by Charlie, another boy with dissociative disorder, but, unlike David, a social outcast. Rose and Charlie soon bond as Rose starts becoming her own person.
Critical Evaluation: While the ending of Girl Parts is quite lacking, the book itself covered an intriguing number of themes pertinent to today's society. Dissociative disorders due to the isolating aspect of the internet is important, despite the craze of social networking and websites that promote friendship. Another important theme is the relationship between individuals, whether they are between humans and robots or humans and humans. That there are steps one must take and time that must pass is another important lesson that readers could pick up. The writing style of Girl Parts is fast paced and snappy, due to the rotating third person narrators (the focal point changes from the girl who commits suicide, David, Charlie, and Rose). Being able to see the points of view of all of the main cast is an interesting choice instead of the typical young adult first person point of view, and allows the reader to understand all sides of the story. The dialog within Girl Parts is realistic and often entertaining, including text and instant messages.
Reader's Annotation: After seeing a fellow high schooler kill herself online, David Sun's parents order him a gorgeous female Companion bot, to treat his dissociative disorder and teach him how to form human bonds.
Information About the Author: Cusick grew up in a small town in Massachusetts and graduated from Wesleyan University. He is a writer and literary agent who currently lives in Brooklyn.
While Girl Parts is his first book, Cusick is a prolific blogger. Follow him on his blog!
Genre: Science fiction; Robots; Dissociative disorders
Curriculum Ties N/A
- Focus on the different relationships within the book, from the human-robot relationships (David and Rose; Charlie and Rose) to the human relationships (David and Willow; Charlie and Rebecca). How do they differ and was it only through Rose that David and Charlie could actually have relationships with other humans?
- Describe the changes that Rose undergoes from the beginning of the book to the end. How is she, a Robot, more fluid of a character than David or Charlie? Is her role truly that of just a catalyst that encourages change, or is she a character in her own right?
Reading Level: 15+
- There are many disturbing themes within this book, as it covers teens and dissociative disorders caused through the isolation of the internet and virtual reality overall. However, the similarities between the world of Girl Parts and modern society is already there. Suicide is not validated but shown in a realistic manner, via the teenage girl committing suicide and capturing it on webcam. The teens who watch it are disassociated from her death and this could be seen as a warning to maintain relationships.
Why This Book?: Staff recommendation
Cusick, J. M. (2010). Girl parts. Berryville, VA: Candlewick Press.