By: Lauren McLaughlin
At Jonesville High, casual misogyny runs rampant, slut-shaming is a given, and school athletes are glorified above all else. Best friends Suze, Nikki, Ani, and Lydia swear they’ll always have each other’s backs against predatory guys—so when Suze suddenly starts dating wrestling star and toxic douchebag Tarkin Shaw, it’s a big betrayal.
Turns out, it’s not a relationship―it’s blackmail. At first, Suze feels like she has no choice but to go along with it, but when Tarkin starts demanding more, she enlists the help of intelligent misfits DeShawn and Marcus to beat Tarkin at his own game. As Marcus points out, what could possibly go wrong?
The answer: everything. And by the time the teens realize they’re fighting against forces much bigger than the Tarkin Shaws of the world, losing isn’t an option.
With a tone and themes reminiscent of cult favorite Veronica Mars, McLaughlin’s Send Pics offers a searing look at sexual assault, privilege, and toxic masculinity.
High school juniors Nikki, Ani, and Lydia have sworn off boys until college, when they’ll finally escape their small town and the painful memories made there. When the worldly Suze moves to town – and rejects the advances of toxic Tarkin Shaw – the girls know they’ve found an ally. As their trio expands to a quartet, the girls swear to protect one another, “Shields up!” becomes their rallying cry. When Suze is drugged at a party then blackmailed by Shaw, who has naked images of her, the friends, along with Marcus, a journalist, and Deshawn, a concerned classmate, are forced to take action. But when Shaw ends up dead, along with his secrets, the teens quickly learn how far-reaching and how deeply the corruption and toxic masculinity in their town runs.
Told journal entries, conversations, and glimpses into internal thoughts, the players caught up in this story of date rape, blackmail, and murder are fully formed, their imperfections painfully real. McLaughlin shies away from teaching an obvious lesson, instead presenting the events with realism and honesty, challenging the reader to draw their own conclusions as events unfold, then challenging those assumptions as the story progresses.
Though readers should be mindful of triggering content, McLaughlin’s calculated tale of power and revenge will be appreciated by those who know the #MeToo era is here to stay.
Ages 14+ (Apr. 21)