Sofia Alvarado ’18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Courtney Summers is one of the most underrated authors today. A YA author, her work includes Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, Fall for Anything, This is Not a Test, Please Remain Calm, and the upcoming April release, All the Rage. Her novel This is Not a Test, which follows a group of students who take refuge at their old high school when the zombie apocalypse breaks out, was optioned by SONY in 2012. Although she has a great niche following, her work lacks recognition amongst other readers.
Much like Gillian Flynn, Summers writes not the ideal woman, but the complete opposite. Most of her female characters are antagonistic, self-destructive, brash, and most importantly unapologetic. She writes girls struggling with past mistakes, loneliness, depression, and abandonment amongst others. Her female characters put the “strong women” trope to shame. She crafts beautifully complicated women who are struggling with realistic issues, and she is not afraid to admit when her characters have made mistakes. The purpose of these girls is not to inspire you to be better, but to give an understanding of everything women can be, and most importantly, how they become so.
Her debut novel, Cracked Up To Be, follows a good girl gone bad. Alarms go off when Parker Fadley, straight-A student, number one teacher’s pet, and most popular of St. Peter’s High School begins to drink in school. Her parents and counselors try their best to help, but Parker refuses to speak or listen. As the novel unfolds, readers are taken along Parker’s journey back to the night when everything changed. There’s a reason why Parker decided to stay quiet about what she did and readers will not be disappointed to learn what it is.
One of the Summer’s greatest qualities as a writer is her ability to deal with tough issues in a realistic, raw way that passes no judgment. For example, her second novel, Some Girls Are, follows Regina Afton. After her friend group has frozen her out, Regina is forced to befriend a guy she used to bully. Simultaneously, her old friends are spreading rumors about her and tormenting in school forcing to face the harsh reality of what she made someone go through. The novel represents the terrible things girls can do to one another. Her story represents how multilayered bullying is, and how it extends further than a bully/bullied dynamic; she represents the reality of bullying without the overdramatic tone a story of such would usually entail.
Despite her fourth novel being a dystopia YA, This is Not a Test is unlike anything else on the YA subgenre out there. Sloane Price was on the verge of committing suicide when the apocalypse broke out. As she finds herself on a world that gives her no reason to keep holding on, she must decide if she will fight or die. Sloane is nothing like your usual dystopia heroine, she is not fighting against a totalitarian government or finding the cure that will mend the world; she is fighting an inner battle against herself and the odds are as high as could be.
Even though she is writing about topics that have been explored by many, she takes tropes and turns them inside out. Summers will not write the fairy tale that you want to hear, or give you the happily ever after you have been waiting for, but she will, however, write the most realistic, flawed, and honest characters you could ask for. She might not tell you the story you want to hear, but she will tell you the one you must listen to.