Book Review: Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

WANT TO GO PRIVATE? by Sarah Darer Littman
Publication Date: August 1st 2011 by Scholastic Press
Rating: |

Summary: Abby and Luke chat online. They’ve never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn’t she care? Everyone tells her to “make an effort,” but why can’t she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she’s losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she’s his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn’t who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again.

Review Overview:

  • Abby’s character will definitely be relatable to younger teens
  • Since this is a novel about an Internet predator, be warned: Littman does not sugarcoat anything
  • A must-read for young teens who are just starting to be or are already active on the Internet

WANT TO GO PRIVATE? is a thrilling and realistic portrayal of a girl’s experience with an online predator.

Initially, I was put off by Abby’s character. I couldn’t quite relate to her since I had a smoother transition into high school. However, I think there are a lot of young teenagers who will understand what she is going through. Just starting high school, Abby feels lonely. She wants things to remain as they were, but her best friend Faith is quickly being acclimated to her new environment and making new friends. Drifting apart from her friend and family, Abby starts socializing with a man online and quickly befriends him.

Written in first person, Abby’s chat conversations added authenticity to the novel.  However, the chatspeak used in the first part of the book did bother me after a while, but this is a very minor complaint on my part. After all, I would hate to be a hypocrite. I use them too, but maybe not to that excess – anymore, at least!

Since this is young adult, I wondered how far Littman could possibly take it. This is a novel about an Internet pedophile; they do some pretty sick things. As much as I would love to immediately pass this off to my 13 year old cousin to warn her about the dangers of the Internet, it probably would not be the best choice. WANT TO GO PRIVATE? got quite explicit. My jaw dropped. I highly praise Littman for having the audacity to write out the chat transcripts between Abby and Luke. The novel would not be the same without them.

Each part of the novel increased in intensity. Reading the first part of WANT TO GO PRIVATE? was like watching a teen horror flick. You know what’s just about to happen, but no matter how hard you scream at the characters, you know that they are walking straight into trouble. It was just so frustrating to read Abby make so many mistakes, but I knew they were inevitable.

I love how the second part of the novel changed in perspective. The different point of view left me just as clueless as the other character’s as to Abby’s whereabouts. It left me hanging at the edge of my seat. At that point, it was impossible to determine what exactly happened to Abby. I felt helpless as Lily and her parents. It felt like I was reading a crime drama. It’s obvious that Littman did her research very well. WANT TO GO PRIVATE? was very realistic and at the same time managed to completely suck me in.

The ending was probably my favorite part of the book. I ended up discussing this book with my mom because she’s big into crime TV. She said that she always wondered about the after. Littman makes the book about more than just a crime: it’s about Abby – what caused her to start talking to a stranger and how she changes during and after. The story isn’t over until the crime is solved. For the victims, it’s also about what happens when they return back to their lives.

Every teenager needs to read this. Littman warns about the dangers of the Internet without sounding didactic. This can happen to anyone, no matter how many time we think that it could never be us. Littman is a master at capturing serious issues in the lives of teenagers while maintaining a genuine voice.


  1. SO glad to know this is good! I picked it up in B&N the other week and got through a little of the beginning, but didn’t have the time or money to buy it.

    Really, really looking forward to it.

    Awesome review. :]

  2. Eeehh. I feel like this one’ll give me nightmares, so hopefully it’s understandable if I give it a pass? Especially regarding the “explicit” scenes you mention.

  3. Ooh thanks for the review! This has been on my TBR ever since I heard about it but I wonder if I could handle the explicit parts in this book. I probably couldn’t but I think I’ll still give it a read xD.

  4. I agree, I really liked that Littman explored the aftermath of everything that happened. This was such a hard read, but it was worth it. Great review!

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