When I first started blogging, I threw myself into every book I heard about online. It didn’t matter if it was mentioned on youtube or on one of the blogs I followed, as long as the book was “hyped enough” I had to get my hands on it.
This led to me reading a lot of YA contemporary novels that I wasn’t a big fan of.Lately, I try to avoid YA contemporaries as Adult Fiction tends to be so much more interesting and more relatable in a way as well, as I’m sloooowly approaching my 30s (did I just say this out loud?!)
«What Kind of Girl» is not a “standard” YA contemporary, it deals with a lot of important matters and contains multiple triggers. So in a way, I felt forced to like it, although I’m not sure I did.
The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions: Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? Some girls want to rally for his expulsion – and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.
Thank you Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK – Atom for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company or its affiliates in any way.
Written in a very interesting way (that I will talk more about below), in «What Kind of Girl» we follow two girls, the best friends from the North Bay Academy – Maya and Juniper, who deal with emotional and physical abuse, anxiety, depression, bulimia, self-harm, OCD… the list goes on and on.
This book should come with a big disclaimer on the front cover, and if you have suffered from any of the mentioned above, I wouldn’t advise you to read this book. Detailed descriptions often made me squirm and I’ve never dealt with anxiety or depression before myself.
The strongest point of this book, as for me, is the way it’s written. Alyssa B. Sheinmel chose a very unique writing technique to tell the story, and also to make the reader understand her characters better.
The book, as I mentioned, is told from two perspectives – Maya and Juniper, but at the same time, their parts are also divided into smaller chapters – “The Anxious Girl”, “The Girlfriend”, “The Popular Girl”, etc. At first, this was slightly confusing to me as I didn’t understand who I was reading about and how many PoVs there actually was, but once I figured out what was going on, I really enjoyed this method.
Nowadays, authors, when writing for a younger audience, are not afraid to spill the truth. They won’t hide the inconveniences of life, instead, they will bring to light the worse possible things – bullying, the pressure to perform, anxiety over growing up, and try to show them as real as they are. This can help but also harm.
When I was a teenager, I don’t remember reading books with such raw events and emotions. I didn’t even know what bulimia was or depression or anxiety. And maybe that’s for the best?
At the same time, teens who actually go through these experiences would only benefit from seeing it portrayed in the book, from seeing an alternative way of dealing with these hardships, and be pushed to seek help.
When reading something so affecting, I usually don’t even notice if the characters were well fleshed out, if the plot was interesting enough or whether the relationships between characters felt real, because neither of these things was the main focus of the story.
If the book lacked anything of the abovementioned characteristics, I didn’t notice. For me, it was a very well written, emotional and sad story about self-love and self-discovery.
«What Kind of Girl» is not an easy read and it’s not the book for everyone. I can see why some people will absolutely love it, others might be forced to love it because of all the different things it talks about.
Do you read a lot of YA Contemporaries? How do you feel about books that focus on illnesses, anxiety, depression, abuse, etc.?
Let me know in the comments below!