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by Abigail Vona
Rugged Land, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 16th 2005
Abby Vona was 15 when her father
took her to a facility in Louisville, Tennessee to straighten her out. Bad Girl tells of her 328 days locked
up with other teenaged girls who were also out of control. Through group therapy, family therapy by
phone, and very strict rules, Abby learns how to live her life without getting
into trouble, and she re-evaluates her relationships with her family. She gets herself on the road to
Abby's parents are divorced, and
she has a terrible relationship with her stepmother. She idolizes her mother, even though her mother encourages her to
take drugs and to be antagonistic towards her father and his wife. Before she is taken to the treatment
facility, Abby is constantly sneaking out of her room to be with her boyfriend
and her other friends, and she gets into lots of trouble. She is arrogant and dismissive of others,
and her life is headed in the wrong direction.
It takes Abby a while before she
starts to see that she is the one with the problem, but hearing the stories of
the other girls helps her get perspective on her own relationships. They are even more troubled than her, working
as prostitutes as young teenagers, becoming very violent, or hurting
themselves. Initially resistant, she
starts to make progress and eventually she wants to change. By the end of the book, she has genuinely
started to become more centered and in control of herself.
In her diary entries, she sets out
the details of life in the facility, talking about the girls she met and grew
to care for, as well as the staff who try to help them all. The writing is straightforward, with plenty
of dialog, so the book is a quick read.
Vona is a young writer, and her descriptions are not particularly
sophisticated or evocative, but the reader gets some feel for what life was
like from day to day. There are no
great insights in Bad Girl, but it does help provide a sense of how
young women with severe behavioral problems can be helped.
© 2005 Christian Perring. All
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is
Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor
of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.