HARSH PINK by Melody Carlson

Author Melody Carlson
Publisher: THINK Books (an imprint of NavPress)
Published in: 2007
Price: Rs. 811 (discounted to Rs. 641 at Flipkart)/ $12.99

Harsh Pink- Color Me Burned, is the final installment (12th) in the TRUECOLORS series; a story of Reagan Mercer, seventeen, who's the 'new girl' in High School after shifting from Boston with her Mom. She's smart, talented and infused with the eagerness and zeal to get accepted in the new school. It's a book that remarkably presents deep rooted apprehensions in teenagers, the way they perceive things, the difference in mindset among   different girls. Literally a mental roller coaster ride of the feelings and situations faced by Reagan.

Reagan gets selected into varsity team for cheerleading, getting herself in Miss Mean and Snooty Kendra's bad books. Reagan has snatched her place in the team and Kendra's set to let everyone know who's the boss. But Reagan is smarter. She knows how to wean herself out of tricky situations and so decides that the best way to keep herself safe would be to befriend Kendra and her gang. She uses Jocelyn, who's new to the High School squad like her, to strike friendship with Kendra. Soon it's all a "Mean girls" setup, each of them using each other for their selfish purposes. Reagan's accepted into their gang, (with slight resentment from Sally, Kendra's best who thinks Reagan's going to steal her place) and it isn't long before Kendra and Sally are playing real mean tricks on Jocelyn to make her leave the squad, so that Kendra can replace her. 

While Reagan feels guilty about backstabbing her friend, she plays along with them, being mean, to stay in Kendra's good books. She knows she can be much better off if she doesn't have people like Kendra or Sally on her back, so she goes selfish and lets them trick Jocelyn into quitting. Meanwhile, it's getting harder to take care of Reagan's Grandmom with Alzheimer's, so her Mom decides to send her to a nursing facility. But Reagan goes against it and says she'll do everything to make sure Nana (her Grandmom) is comfortable, which is another activity that takes up her time. 
Harsh Pink book cover
Andrea Lynch was a 'Geek Girl' who befriended Reagan when she was new to the place, but Reagan didn't want to be seen with someone like her. She wanted to be friends with "A class" people and Andrea seemed a "C minus" to her. As soon as school started, Reagan dumped Andrea and carried on with her new friends. However, she notices that Andrea sticks around with her Grandma (who seems to be fond of her) and thinks it's a trick to get friendly with Reagan. She thinks it's lame, but Andrea actually was working with a Youth Program and she knew that old people need Love and care more than anything else. She tells Reagan that she used to be mean and famous in middle school, but she wasn't happy (much like Reagan feels now), so she decided to commit herself to God and work for humanity.

Reagan makes plans to go out with Kendra to shop for stuff for her party and promises her Mom to be back home (where Nana's alone) well on time to take care of her. But she's having fun and doesn't realize the time and when she gets home, finds Nana on the floor. She had fallen down and broken her pelvic bone and had been staying there for a long time, since no one was home. Nana's transferred to a nursing facility that's terrible (after being treated at the hospital) and Reagan feels guilty because it's all her fault (I really hated that girl then!). She meets Nana everyday for an hour but missed out a whole week after a few days, because of her busy life (Yeah, right!).

It's Sally's eighteenth birthday and though she didn't want to be there, Reagan's present for the sleepover. However, she's worried sick when she sees them drinking hard and forcing her to do the same. She makes an excuse and sneaks out and before she knows, she's crying. She meets Andrea on the way, who offers her a lift home and is all ears as Reagan spills all her feelings out. Andrea seems to understand and tells her to be good and go back to make sure everything's okay. When Reagan returns, she finds Sally in an unconscious state because of alcohol poisoning and calls the paramedics. It's because of her timely action that Sally's life was saved. Reagan finally understood the importance of true friends and goes back to being friends with Andrea, Jocelyn and even Sally. She even embraces Christianity because she now believes in God (thanks to Andrea).

My review
Teenage period spells havoc, literally. Be it emotions, feelings, situations, moods or every simple thing that's completely normal till you're a preteen. Harsh Pink is a good read, especially because it presents the turmoil and the feelings teens go through. What Reagan felt when she was nervous about being at loggerheads with Miss Popular Kendra, how she decides to befriend her, how she feels they might be tricking her, her thoughts and guilt when she thinks she's being part of the backstabbing game towards a friend, or when she's not able to take time out for Nana. I think the descriptions and the way it's been told is fantastic.

However, I personally do not like mean girls and this book was totally about that. Though I was hooked to the book, there were parts when I felt frustrated at the way things were going and somewhat disliked Reagan for behaving selfish, but I guess that's how mean girls actually are. In that case, it gives a pretty cool insight into what transpires between the 'bullies' and 'meanies' at school. Though I was disappointed with the way Reagan's Mom treats her Mother, I liked the way Reagan felt sorry for her and helped Nana out. That's a different issue I wanted to kill Reagan for leaving her alone at home, because of which she had to deal with a painful recovery plus a life in the nursery. Reagan says she'll get Nana back home when she's recovered, but I felt real angry when the book ended just like that! Not a word about the old lady. (I might seem a little too concerned, but I have a sensitive point when it comes to Grandmas). 

Apart from not-a-word-about-Nana thing, the ending gave me some satisfaction. It gives the message that whatever the situation, wherever you go, if you're in a problem, it's the good people who're always there to help you out; true friends whom you might not even like, but they'll act selflessly for you anyway. That it's the love givers who feel contended with your success and help you out when you're in trouble. The 'fakies' and meanies wouldn't give a damn and will use you like a use-and-throw napkin. I liked the way Andrea helps Reagan and Sally transform, though I think it could have used more space to describe this 'transformation' (it spanned just three pages!). 

Overall, a good  read. Recommended for young and late teens- girls who're naturally mean would find their story told in a novel and the good ones would find out how mean people can get, and what apprehensions are buried under the mean, confident exterior of bullies.

There's something that Andrea says, when she's asking Reagan which course she'd decided to take for her life, that's stuck with me because of its deep meaning. Andrea said, "Not making a decision is the same as making one. It's like saying you like how things are going, that you want to keep heading in the same direction. But I think that's a bad choice".


  1. Hi Ashna,
    This is the first on the page and I decided to start with it.
    You wrote very well giving your viewpoints and insights and I came to know a good amount about the book itself.
    Though, I would just say that the summary or the storyline you described could have been a little shorter. I maybe wrong, cause these kind of books are not exactly 'my type'. But any ways..it was good. Keep writing. :)

  2. Hey Usama.. I realyy appreciate your valuable comment. :)
    You're right about the length. I'll try to keep them short in the next ones. Though my aim is to write down the story so that I don't forget it, and when I do, I can go back to it through these summaries. That's why I've typed down these long storylines! But I will definitely shorten them a little :)


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