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“The internet creates beasts who don’t have the nerve to say anything to your face, but speak their poison in typed messages behind computer screens. There’s no beauty hiding there, and the ugliness is so much more than skin deep,” Linden. –Worthy
by Donna Cooner
AR Test, Diverse Characters
Everyone at Linden’s high school is obsessed with a new app called Worthy. The app posts pictures of couples and asks, “Is the girl worthy of the guy?” Some use the anonymous platform to post cruel comments. As the voting goes viral, not every couple can handle the comments that begin to collect. The comments aren’t only online: the app and the couples it features are the topic of every conversation at school.
At first, Linden is focused on other things like cute Alex Rivera, the Prom Committee, and her writing. But soon, Linden is just as obsessed with Worthy as everyone else. Soon, the app is causing problems between Linden and her best friend, Nikki. What will happen when the spotlight turns on Linden?
Readers will relate to Linden as she struggles with online bullying. Even though Linden knows that posting mean comments online is wrong, she doesn’t have a problem voting. As the story progresses, four different couples are featured on Worthy. Linden overhears many conversations about the couples that allow the reader to understand how superficial the voters are. As more and more teens get caught up in the voting craze, Linden is forced to evaluate her own motives for voting. When Linden and Alex are featured on the app, Linden finally realizes how devastating people’s comments can be.
In a world where so many teens are connected on social media, the story has a realistic conflict; however, there are so many minor characters that it is often difficult to keep track of them all. Because the minor characters seldom appear, readers may find it difficult to care about how the app affects them. It isn’t until the app focuses on Linden that the conflict becomes more suspenseful. The story is told from Linden’s point of view, which allows the reader to understand her insecurities and her fears as well as see her personal growth.
Worthy is a cute romance that has several positive aspects. Nikki, Alex, and Linden’s parents all make a short appearance in the story. Despite that each family is different, they are all portrayed in a positive light. The story shies away from profanity and sex. Even though the story drags at points, the positive messages in the book make it worth the read. Connor makes it clear that teens need to look past people’s appearances. The story also shows the damage that online bullying can cause in relationships. Worthy isn’t afraid to explore difficult topics and would be an excellent book to use as a conversation starter.
- While in the school hallway, Linden sees her best friend Nikki kissing her boyfriend.
- Linden thinks about her neighbor, Max. “When we were twelve, we shared our first kiss in the tree house his dad built.”
- While sitting outside of Linden’s house, Alex “raises his hand, still caught in mine, and traces his thumb gently against my lips. My face explodes with heat, and when his hand slips away, I lean in toward him. The first kiss is soft. Just a touch. . .He leans back on the grass, pulling me against his chest, and we are kissing. And kissing. And kissing.”
- While in the school hallway, Alex tries to kiss Linden and she jerks “backward because I’m not expecting it and it ends up a totally awkward kind of face bump.” Linden is embarrassed and thinks, “I’m not so sure public displays of affection are my thing. . . It’s funny we weren’t awkward at all when we were kissing Saturday night. I blush and smile at the memory.”
- At school, Linden notices two kids kissing and notices that the girl “gives him a kiss right on the mouth, completely oblivious to the rest of the group.”
- While at Alex’s house, Linden thinks “about kissing him in my front yard.”
- At a school assembly, Alex sits next to Linden and gives her a “quick kiss. This time our lips touch confidently, like we greet each other like this all the time.”
- Linden imagines asking Alex to prom and “then we’ll kiss.”
- While sitting in Alex’s car, he “cups [Linden’s] cheek in his hand . . . He runs a thumb along my bottom lip. Slowly. Then he leans in to kiss me—very softly—following along the line his thumb travels with his lips.”
- Linden thinks about her best friend and remembers “when Nikki told me Martin Wells had kissed her behind the trees outside the playground.”
- While at a quinceañera, Linden brushes “[Alex’s] thick black hair back off his forehead, my fingers lingering as they slide down his face. . . Then he turns his head and his lips are on my palm. The heat explodes into my cheeks.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Oh my God and OMG are used eleven times in total.
- Crap is used once. When Linden accidentally throws the bowling ball the wrong way, she thinks, “crap.”
- Freaking is used once.
- While bowling, Linden doesn’t want her feet touching the shoes. She thinks, “Thank God for the thick boot socks I put on under my cowboy boots.”