Praise for Bad Girls Never Say Die:
"Mathieu has created a story that is wholly her own, and what a mighty story it is." - The New York Times
"[A] bold feminist take on The Outsiders ... This important, thought provoking read will no doubt have a lasting impression on readers." - Booklist
"Jennifer Mathieu has rather ingeniously taken the social dynamics of The Outsiders and refocused them on a pack of teenage girls... a worthy expansion." - Shelf Awareness
"In Evie—loyal, searching, smarter than she realizes—Mathieu (The Liars of Mariposa Island) has created an earnest, memorable character." - Publishers Weekly
"Engaging dialogue and melodramatic plot twists keep pages turning as the girls’ unlikely bond is solidified and the star-crossed lovers’ sad story unfolds. This book holds its own as a standalone novel and offers lots of opportunities for discussion as a companion read to Hinton’s." - The Horn Book
"A reimagining of The Outsiders ... the feeling Evie expresses over being stuck in her teenage trappings will ring true to many, and her efforts to eschew gender expectations will be felt by any teens who face gender-discriminatory dress codes at school." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Highly recommended for the classroom or to give to budding social activists." - School Library Journal
It’s Houston, 1964, and the city is segregated by class and race: the white and Mexican American students at Eastside High are poor; the white teenagers at River Oaks High, called “tea sippers” by the Eastsiders, are wealthy and socially elite. When their paths cross, such as at the local Winkler Drive-In, insults and punches fly. But when narrator Evie Barnes, 15, a white sophomore in a close-knit group of white and Mexican junior “bad girls,” sees a tea sipper named Diane being taunted, she impulsively helps her, a favor Diane more than returns when she kills a white River Oaks boy who assaults Evie. As the cops close in, Evie’s crowd tries to protect Diane. If this world sounds familiar, it is: Mathieu offers an effective update of S.E. Hinton’s beloved The Outsiders with female protagonists. Diane has been exiled to Eastside because she fell for the wrong guy; Evie is drawn to the “tuff” girls because she wants more agency than the narrow, husband-dependent world her mother imagines for her. And in Evie—loyal, searching, smarter than she realizes—Mathieu (The Liars of Mariposa Island) has created an earnest, memorable character. Front matter includes an author’s note. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
Gr 9 Up—Evie and her friends are "bad girls"—they wear heavy makeup, skip class to smoke, and spend their weekends drinking and partying at the local drive-in movie theatre. After Evie is brutally attacked there one Saturday night, she awakens to discover that her attacker has been killed by the unlikeliest of people—Diane, a wealthy girl who is new in Evie's class. Now, Evie and her friends must deal with the fallout from this horrible night while trying to protect Diane, who is harboring even more secrets. A feminist take on The Outsiders, this fast-paced story shines because of its strong characters and emotional punch. Set against the harshly elitist backdrop of 1964 Houston, TX, the novel explores themes of friendships, found family, and tearing down stereotypes. These threads remain deeply poignant and will resonate with teens from all kinds of backgrounds. Trigger warnings for sexual assault, alongside heavy drinking and smoking, make this book less suitable for younger teens, but high school librarians and teachers will find this to be a good addition to their collections because it will spark discussions on tough topics like gender equality, economic disparity, and social stigma. VERDICT Highly recommended for the classroom or to give to budding social activists.—Chelsey Masterson, New York P.L., Bronx, New York
For “bad girls,” hell can be a place on Earth.
In Houston in the early ’60s, girls only seem to have two choices: be a good girl and get married or be a bad girl and live your life. Fifteen-year-old Evie, from a working-class White family, became a bad girl after her sister’s shotgun wedding took her away from home. Mexican American neighbor Juanita, who smokes, drinks, wears intense eye makeup, and runs with the tough crowd, takes Evie under her wing, but despite the loyalty of this new sisterhood, Evie often feels uncertain of her place. When a rich girl from the wealthy part of town named Diane saves Evie from assault by killing the attacker, Evie finds a new friend and, through that friendship, discovers her own courage. This work borrows a few recognizable beats from S.E. Hinton’s 1967 classic, The Outsiders—class tensions, friendship, death, and a first-person narrative that frequently employs the word tuff—but with a gender-swapped spin. Overall, the novel would have benefited from a stronger evocation of the setting. During an era of societal upheaval, Evie struggles to reconcile her frustration at the limited roles defined for her and her friends, with many moments of understanding and reflection that will resonate with modern readers’ sensibilities—although sadly she still victim blames herself for the attempted assault.
Stronger books may exist about the 1960s, but female friendship tales never go out of style. (author's note, resources) (Historical fiction. 12-15)