Author(s): Annabel Monaghan
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Release Date: 06/05/2012
Hard cover Price: $16.99
Reading Level: 12-14
Other Choices: Harriet the Spy, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, Matched, The Amanda Project: invisible i
Synopsis: Fun story of math whiz girl who fights crime, finds romance.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that readers will learn somethings about cracking codes in A Girl Named Digit -- and get a strong message about the importance of being their true selves. However, there's a surprising level of violence here: An eco-terrorist group kills eight people during a bombing at JFK airport and has another attack planned for Disney World. John's boss at the FBI had been kidnapped and tortured by this same group and is missing all the fingers of one hand. There's also gunplay and threats of shooting, one character commits suicide, and students at Farrah's school think that she's been kidnapped and maybe raped. Beyond that, there's a romance between John, the 21-year-old FBI agent, and 17-year-old Farrah; they kiss and spend the night together, but nothing beyond snuggling takes place.
- Families can talk about A Girl Named Digit's message of being true to yourself. Do you think it's still true that girls hide their smarts from their friends? If so, why do you think that is, and what can we do to change it?
- Why do you think the author made a choice to make the violent group one that's fighting to protect the environment?
- What do you think about a relationship between a 21-year-old guy and a 17-year-old girl?
What's the story?
Math genius Farrah has tried to act like a regular high school girl and distance herself from a painful middle school nickname: Digit. But when she cracks a code that an eco-terrorist group has been broadcasting on a popular teen TV show, she finds herself in serious danger -- and under the protection of a young, handsome FBI agent. Between hiding out, jumping out of moving taxis, and staking out bad guys from a Central Park tree, Farrah and John find themselves in a deeper mystery -- and in love with each other. As she uses her genius skills to thwart another terrible terrorist tragedy, she also learns that "someone could love me" for being Digit, her true, brainy self.
Is it any good?
There's not enough clever spy stuff to put A GIRL NAMED DIGIT in league with Ally Carter's I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, but A Girl Named Digit is a fun enough book that celebrates smart, brave girls and the importance of being yourself. Tweens may find it a bit heavy on romance and a little light on actual code breaking, but readers looking for a beach book with a little bit of heart will find enough to satisfy them. Digit's transformation into a tough girl who's able to be her true self is realistic -- and worth cheering.
The Good Stuff
Messages: Farrah learns to be her true brainy self -- and show that self to John. Once she cracks a eco-terrorist group's code, she's committed to using her skills to fight them and thwart a major attack.
Educational Value: Readers will learn something about codes, such as the Fibonacci code and Caeser shifts. They may be inspired to learn more or try some codes of their own.
Role Models: Farrah is a strong, smart girl, and she gets a lot of loving support from her parents and even her younger brother, who says, "I don't think you really see how important you are."
What to watch out for
Violence The eco-terrorist group kills eight people during a bombing at JFK airport. The suicide bomber is later revealed to be the mother of a child with a birth defect that was caused by a toxic environment. John's boss at the FBI previously had been kidnapped and tortured by this same group and is missing all the fingers of one hand. There's gunplay and threats of shooting, one character commits suicide, and Farrah works to stop a bombing.
Sex: Some kissing between Farrah and John, and they spend the night together many times but just snuggle. Also, much is made of the fact that while he's 21, she's still 17. He tells her he wants to wait until she's 18 to take her to Hawaii.
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Some mentions of Manolos, CNN, CNBC, The Da Vinci Code, AT&T, Verizon, iPhone, Gossip Girl, Corona, Chex Mix.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Farrah drinks beer sometimes, as does 21-year-old John. She goes to a party where she throws up and gets a reputation for being a drinker, which she doesn't dispute; another teen there is passed out after being bullied into doing beer bongs. Other adults drink wine, and a boy asks Farrah if she wants to get high.