I suppose such titles as ttyl, ttfn, and l8r g8r are appropriate for Lauren Myracle’s trilogy, considering how often the three main girls say goodbye to one another. As novels written entirely in instant messages, I suppose it’s only appropriate to have a way to signify the end of a conversation and move on less awkwardly to the next one. Appropriate and perhaps even necessary, but repetitive. I suppose there’s a sense of security in this repetition, a repeated formula that assures readers that everything will turn out alright, in the end.
ttfn finds Angela, Maddie, and Zoe in their junior year of high school, with old worries now a year behind them and new worries ahead. Angela’s parents are preparing to drop a bombshell on her. Maddie has made friends with a pot-smoking boy named Chive, who also sees no harm in sharing partners. Zoe has become close friends with Doug Schmidt, who in the first book was smitten with Angela. This is the setup for their upcoming troubles.
Myracle likes to focus both on issues we hear about in the news and personal problems that are more familiar to teenage girls. In Angela’s case, her father has been laid off, and now the family has to move to California for his new job. In this way Myracle makes a connection with a real thematic issue affecting many families today, and she puts it squarely into the perspective of a teenage girl who can only comprehend the fact she's going to have to move away from her best friends. I'm sure many teenage girls in similar situations can relate to this, though adult readers will likely relate more to the father losing his job. Pot smoking and drug use are also hot issues, particularly when it comes to teen use. The way Maddie justifies smoking pot, by saying it's no big deal, is an accurate portrayal of how teenagers respond to the reactions of concerned friends.
The novel can be a little bit too repetitive, especially regarding how Angela feels about moving. Too many conversations focus on how upset she is and how the three best friends are meant to be together forever. This bogs down Myracle’s usually vibrant energy, which still shows through in large chunks of the novel. And you know whenever somebody continually repeats that they will be together forever that they will begin to drift apart. Angela physically moves away, and Zoe and Maddie begin to spend time with their boyfriends rather than one another. That this happens is only natural, though the girls are upset to realize it.
As the girls have grown older, they have grown less afraid of talking about sex. There are lots of discussions about blow jobs, masturbation, and even things done between a boy and a girl that don’t involve sex. These girls are at an age when sexual experimentation is a fact with some, and likely a topic of conversation for most. I think Myracle’s handles the discussions of sex realistically. None of the girls actually have sexual intercourse, but at least one of them comes close. While the girls don't obsess over it, we find examples of ways that boys imagine even the most innocent gesture as something sexual. Zoe tells Maddie about a boy in her class who says he knows why girls jiggle their legs while sitting down. Only a teenage boy could come up with the idea he has, and only a teenage boy would believe it.
Overall I thought ttfn was just as good as ttyl. It kept me entertained, and even had me laughing out loud at times. I find some of the conflicts less believable than others, such as one between Angela and Zoe over Doug. Perhaps teenage girls would fight over such things and in that case they would relate better than I can, but it still had me wishing for a little more substance. It's a little too convenient that the main conflicts of each of the girls reaches a climax on the exact same night, especially when you consider one is 3,000 miles away. And of course the conflicts resolve a little too quickly and easily, considering how much time Myracle spends developing them. Still, it was a fun, if predictable read, though I’m sure teenage girls would like it better than anybody else.