Published in 2006, The Notebook Girls is the real-life journal of four students who attended Manhattan's Stuyvesant High School. Starting in 2002, the girls, who had always been in class together, suddenly found themselves separated by the demanding schedules of high school. In order not to lose touch with one another, they began a notebook that they passed among themselves in order to chronicle events both major and minor.
The Notebook Girls is an unabashed look at real life in one of New York City's best public high schools. Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, and Courtney Toombs regale and shock readers with tales of drug use, binge drinking, and first sexual experiences. They grapple with their religious convictions and their family lives almost as regularly as they struggle with vexing homework assignments.
It is also important to note that the girls experienced the horrors of September 11, 2001, firsthand. The girls' school had to be immediately evacuated on that fateful day that clearly had a profound impact on them. Some of the earliest entries in the book reference the girls' feelings on the one-year anniversary of the event.
The book contains as many doodles, pictures, and marginalia as it does journal entries. The reader gets an intimate sense of each girl's personality and the dynamic of their group. Clearly apparent as well is the tension that exists not only among students at Stuyvesant but also that which is inherent between public school and private school students.
After the book was published, the girls reported that their parents were shocked by the book's content. In fact, the mother of one of the girls said that she wished that there had not been quite so much detail revealed. Readers may be surprised to learn that amid all of the drinking, drugs, and partying, the girls still maintained good grades and went on to attend some of the finest colleges in the United States, including Princeton and Wesleyan.