St Hilda’s Grammar School has implemented a Wellness Program during term three to equip the students with ‘the resilience and personal integrity to cope with whatever comes their way in these challenging times’ of the digital era. It is a response to the frequency of media reports about online bullying, but the teachers have no idea about how close to home the issue is. PSST, or PrivateSchoolsSecretsTrackr, is a Facebook page which feeds on lies and nastiness. It is anonymous and randomly targets members of the local private schools, including St Hilda’s and Basildon. The students both fear it and consume it.
In the first week of the Wellness program, Malik asks the students to sort themselves into groups of three according to thumb-length. It is only natural that the longest thumb group would be comprised of a swimmer, a cellist and a tall girl. Clem, a boarder at St Hilda’s, is a champion swimmer, who has lost her passion for swimming and fallen for a guy who everyone else thinks is bad news. Kate, another boarder with computer superpowers and a gift for the cello, was focused on earning a scholarship to enable her to pursue her dream of studying medicine until the life changing moment that she heard a cello recital by Frances Carter. Ady appears to be following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, who also attended St Hilda’s and married Basildon boys, but despite maintaining the façade of perfection for her friends and family she has this pervading sense that everything in her ‘perfect’ life is about to crumble. These three girls move in different circles. Initially, it appears that they have nothing in common except the length of their thumbs.
To complete the subject requirements, the thumb group members have to meet twice during the term and get to know each other. Ady, Kate and Clem see little value in it until, one by one, each of them are targeted by the PSST. They begin to work together to support each other thorough relationship issues, family crisis and life changes as they try to figure out how to stop the PSST wreaking havoc.
The story is told from the viewpoint of the three main protagonists, Clem, Kate and Ady. Each character’s viewpoint is written by a different author which ads depth and individuality to their individual perspectives. The story flows well as layer by layer of the story is told by the characters, interspersed with posts from PSST, emails containing the lesson outline for each weeks Wellness program, and significant journal entries from the three main protagonists.
Take Three Girls explores friendships and relationships on a variety of levels, portraying both constructive and destructive relationships. The characters display strength and vulnerability as they search for their place in a complex world. There is a good emphasis on respecting yourself and others, and the value of honesty. It is an intimate, sincere and candid story that is hard to put down and has a very satisfying conclusion. I really enjoyed Take Three Girls, and would recommend it for both teenagers and adults.