Review: Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

Title: Stalker Girl
Author: Rosemary Graham
Publisher: Viking
Pub. Date: 8.5.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Stalking, Breakups, Relationships, Secrets
Pages: 208
Description (from GoodReads):
How do you know when you’ve crossed the line between curiosity and obsession?

Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian’s new girlfriend — all of the sadness she feels about her mom’s recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife’s new baby. When Carly’s stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it.

I almost passed on Rosemary Graham’s STALKER GIRL. I couldn’t help but think it might be just a bit too creepy.. a bit too weird… for my tastes. When I browse contemporary YA titles, I generally look for topics and characters I can identify with, and, when I think of words to describe myself, stalker typically doesn’t come to mind. Then I stumbled upon the book trailer and it somehow lodged itself in my mind; I decided to give STALKER GIRL a try. It took only a handful of pages to completely draw me in and I was shocked at what I found.

It turned out that I identified with Carly more than I ever could have imagined. In an interview with the author, I read that STALKER GIRL was originally titled SHE WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS. While I love the straightforward final title and its ability to lure potential readers into browsing the description, I prefer this first incarnation. Like STALKER GIRL, it draws me in, but it also transforms Carly into a more relatable character right from the start. Yes, the main character is a stalker, but she wasn’t always like this. Of course, the reader discovers this as the novel progresses, but, at least in my case, I think I would have been more apt to pick it up right from the start with this title… I would have wanted to know why she had changed.

Understandably, there’s a stigma surrounding the word “stalker.” For me, stalkers just are. There is no before or reason to their creepy, unacceptable behavior. In some cases, like Carly’s, there is a before. And it’s a before that I feel many can relate to. It begins as innocent curiosity. Your serious relationship has ended, perhaps abruptly, and that person you’ve shared so much with has moved on. What does she have that’s so appealing? Why her and not you? Maybe you’ll just look at her Facebook page and glance through her pictures… it’s harmless. Right? But you can’t stop thinking about him. About her. Maybe if you just saw her, you’d understand. So you snoop a bit more and find out that she’s made plans to be here at this time. You’re just going to go for a glimpse… But you still can’t stop.

Of course, most of us wouldn’t take it this far. We’d have friends who would tell us he’s not worth it, that she isn’t even very cute, and that there are plenty of fish in the sea. But if you’re alone, if those thoughts keep bouncing around in your head… multiplying… intensifying – would you be able to hold yourself back? Or would you find that things have twisted in your mind and you now somehow think it might be alright to watch just a little more…?

If Graham had only shown Carly after the breakup, I might not have identified so strongly with this story. But Graham handled this intense material with skill. The novel is divided into three sections: after the breakup, leading up to and during the relationship, and the consequences of Carly’s obsession. It was the middle section, which comprises the bulk of the volume, that made Carly three-dimensional and a character with traits I could identify with. I drew parallels between Carly’s personality and mine, but was cognizant of our differences as well. I appeared to share a number of personality traits with Carly: jealousy, a tendency towards almost obsessive attention to certain subjects or objects (like books). I found myself analyzing why I’d never wound up in Carly’s position… After all, she’s not crazy, at least, not in the traditional sense. She’s been through a lot, her mind is completely overwhelmed, and things just … start to go a bit haywire.

What I mean to say, is that I understand Carly. I found myself wanting to reach out and help her, guide her, let her know she wasn’t alone. I thought I’d feel protective of the new girlfriend, the stalked, but, in the end, I didn’t. Yes, I understood her feelings as well, but it was still Carly that I felt the connection to. Perhaps it was simply Graham’s phenomenal writing that cast a spell and pulled me into Carly madness… or perhaps it was the fact that we all have that small, dark part of ourselves that threatens this crazed behavior… and Carly’s fate.

Grade: A+

Be sure to check out the book trailer… it won me over!


27 thoughts on “Review: Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

  1. When I saw the cover and title, I immediately added it to my TBR list, but in light of your review, I think I'm going to get it from the library ASAP. This sounds fascinating! From what you said, it sounds like the main character and I are similar, too. I get jealous very easily (I try not to, but… you know), and I can easily get obsessed with something. As in, if I'm trying to do something, I can get so wrapped up that frequently I don't even hear the phone or doorbell ringing.

  2. Great review!The title intrigued me actually. I admit I'm guilty of stalking every girl my first ex had dated but I never followed them around the city! Maybe on accident, years later but not while I was actively stalking them. Of course that was years ago! But I'm curious to know how this book will play out!

  3. I, too, was going to pass on this book because of the title. But, I see that it is something that maybe lots of girls can identify with. Thanks for the review! mrsderaps @ hotmail . com

  4. This book certainly seems very different from anything I have ever read. I've certainly never read about stalkers, but I think it sounds pretty interesting. Great review! It definitely makes the book more appealing to me to know that Carly is a character that isn't too hard to connect with even if she is a stalker.

  5. Well if Stalker Girl is a book that makes you want to help out the character and be a part of the book count me in. I love books that make you want to be a part of the world. LOVE your review for this book. Plus I think the concept of this book is very unique. A girl who stalks? Sounds interesting.

  6. I may have passed it up too. But how you explain it makes it sound really interesting! And very unique…I mean, how often do we read a book where the main character is the one sneaking around in the background?

  7. I'd pass on a book like this too, for the creep factor of girl being a stalker. But I like that she has not been such a person all her life. And that the author has a gift for great writing is another pull in, too. Overall I really just want to read this book myself now! Thanks for the review!

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