Gossip Girl: Making the Young Adults of Today the Sluts of Tomorrow

Jun 20th, 2004 | By | Category: Columns

When I was younger, books were my best friends. My only friends, really, as I was prone to forcing other children to sign release statements I had drawn up before playing “The Secret Game of Possum Magic” in my father’s empty amplifier case.

Therefore, I find myself sometimes wandering over to the kid’s book section of the local bookstore and perusing old favorites like Blubber, The Last Unicorn and Don’t Pick Your Nose (a book with advice that took me so long to adapt to).

Just recently, I found a lovely little section at my local bookstore titled “Great Summer Reads” which was specifically geared toward kids and the young adult. Snugly squeezed between The Phantom Tollbooth and The Giver I found a book that was bound to be a classic: Cecily Von Ziegesar’s Only In Your Dreams, a book in the Gossip Girl series.

Only In Your Dreams is about S, N and B. Supposedly the reader is not supposed to know the real names of S, N and B because they are part of “a world of VIPs and red carpet premier parties.” The main characters of the book spend most of their time shopping, partying and wearing designer outfits which are explained in incredible detail. This is the type of world Ziegesar has created for her young characters. I say created because the book does not simply say “By Cecily Von Ziegesar,” but “Created by,” leaving this reader with the wonderful visual of Ziegesar wiping at her sweaty brow as she carefully folds her book into signatures and hand sews the pages together, pondering on the trouble S, N and B will get into next, like maybe visiting Consonant Island where they can pick out some damn vowels and actually have real friggin names.


Only In Your Dreams opens with a quote from Truman Capote, and really, why should I be offended that some “creator”has decided to give herself some intellectual cred by borrowing from one of my favorite American writers? A quote from a Capote novel goes quite nicely with this first page of Only in Your Dreams:

“It’s been summer for about five minutes and already the city sidewalks are a hundred degrees. Thank God we can finally ditch our tired, hideous blue-and-white seersucker school uniforms for good. Unless we decide to resurrect them for our first college Halloween party. Pleated kilts drive boys wild.”

I believe you can find a similar passage in Capote’s In Cold Blood. The Clutters were all about the beer pong.

Only In Your Dreams is specifically geared towards “ages 15 and up,”which makes a lot of sense when stumbling over a sentence that describes a girl as looking, “like Marsha Brady on her way home from her aerobic striptease class (42).”When I was 15 (in 1918), I was reading Anne of Green Gables. I believe the naughtiest thing Anne did was dressing up as Ophelia and stealing a rowboat so she could reenact Ophelia’s death. Anne Shirley: The Original Goth Girl.

Teen People raves that the Gossip Girl series is “Sex and the City for the younger set,”a comparison I no longer find out-of-place after recently discovering Bushnell’s book in the Sociology Section of my local bookstore. We will understand women’s ways through their vaginas and shoe shopping extravaganzas, the ghosts of Truth and Wisdom whispered as I sipped on my six-dollar latte.

Back to the letter girls. Blair, known as “B” is in England and dating Lord Marcus. She is excited because Lord Marcus is a total hottie and irons his jeans. Good looking and obsessive compulsive! As Blair waits for Lord Marcus to return to his mansion, she takes note of her new room, “Blair had divided it up into four sections: one for sleeping, one for eating, one for watching TV, and one for sex (7).”

A sex corner? Why the hell is a book for teenagers talking about a sex corner? Are kids under 18 now emulating monkeys in a cage? Does Blair at least Febreeze the corner once and awhile?

But before I could even wrap my head around such interesting ideas, Blair’s maid appears, setting down the International Herald Tribune. “Blair had requested the daily paper when she checked in, a Yale woman had to keep up on world events, after all. So what if she hadn’t exactly gotten around to the reading part (8).”Ah the American school system. Never fail me, my sweet.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps the Gossip Girl series should be viewed as just a bunch of books made for summer reading. And I’m all for throwaway reading books. In fact when I’m perusing Danielle Steele, there’s often a trashcan right next to me, a fiery hobo furnace just waiting to devour.

But what Ziegesar is doing is not interesting or at all amusing. All she has done is collected a bunch of outdated People magazines, cut out pictures of Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie and another Slutbag and simply focused all her energies in trying to amplify their lives into something everyone has already read before.

Next Month: I read another young adult book that manages to bring up beautiful memories of my youth. “Daddy, no! Not the bat again!”


Frequent target of fallen angels, Eileen hides from their seductive wrath in the hallowed confines of Defenestration HQ, where she hopes to erect a wall of words between herself and the forces of evil.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.