Hi there, Virtually Readers. Shar and I are starting a new feature on Virtually Read that we think will be awesome. It’s called the Bookish Planet and involves us writing a guidebook style-non spoilery guide to a fictional land. In the interest of keeping all our readers entertained, we’ll try to stick to relatively popular places from books but no guarantee. Today, we’re kicking it off with a setting we all know and love—the YA Contemporary American High School.
Description: The American High school is a setting well known in books. To fit the criteria for this setting, the book must be a) set in a high school and b) set in the US of A. The High school is well known for being extremely socially stratified, dividing the population into those who are ‘cool’ and those who are ‘uncool’. To become cool, if you’re a girl, you have to date a member of the football team (and understand football because ???), wear somewhat revealing clothes and make-up and have at least one BFF. To be a cool boy you must play in the football team and regularly go to parties and get drunk. Not too hard, right? ‘Uncool’ people fall into this category for any number of reasons—they may be in orchestra or mathletics, care about doing well on tests (in which case the ‘cool’ people cheat from them), not have a girlfriend/boyfriend or enjoy spending time with their parents. (parents are only good if they go away so you can have a party at your house). Education is not the primary reason for which the American High School exists—getting a boyfriend/girlfriend, coming-of-age, going to parties and whinging about everything else, from parents to homework, is a larger priority. Sometimes there will be one ‘cool’ teacher who seems to actually care, and asks students questions to get them to think about the world and find who they really are. Everyone must have cars because walking is bad and polluting the planet is good. Some of the feelings you’ll find in the High School are: angst; anger; frustration; lust; love (though this is unusual); lack of enthusiasm; friendship.
People: The High School can range from one hundred to several thousand people, and the population is different according to which specific one you’re attending. Some people you may encounter are: Q (from Paper Towns;, Samantha (from My Life Next Door); Dave and Julia (from Never Always Sometimes); Ezra (from The Beginning of Everything); Gansey, Ronan, Adam and perhaps Noah (from The Raven Boys); Emmy and Oliver (from Emmy and Oliver); Alex (from made You Up); Parker (from Not If I See You First); Taylor (from Second Chance Summer); and Mia (from the Princess Diaries) as well as many, many more.
History: The High School as a setting began appearing at the same time as K-12 education became widespread across developed nations. We see it appear in Little House in the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. As High School in reality evolved, so did its depiction in books, leading to the modern high school with AP’s and smartphones and so on that we see now.
Where to stay: Some say that high school is a form of purgatory, and it’s not worth staying. IF you’re there for a day trip, feel free to wander the hallways and pop into classrooms with your favourite characters. If you plan to stay for some nights, be sure to bring sleeping bags—you can probably sleep in the library if you hide from the librarians or kindly explain why you’re there to them.
Language: The language spoken in High School is mostly standard American English. If you want to blend in like a native, be sure to drop some colloquial phrases, or even swear words, into your conversation. Below is a brief guide to some of the language used.
Yo: Hi/ pay attention to me/I’m here.
Wassup: How’s it going? If you want to behave like a slightly immature twelvie/middle schooler respond with ‘the sky’ or ‘the ceiling’.
Like: insert this into sentences as much as you possible can. Like: I was like, thinking and I like, realised, that he’s, like, so hot. Like it’s hard to explain, but, like, don’t you think I’m, like, right?
OMG: Oh my god/ oh my gosh. Like, can you believe it?
So do any aspects need to be added to my guide? Where else should we write entries for? Was this as awesome as predicted? Tell me in the comments!