Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A Review of Not That Kind of Girl

Not That Kind of Girl is a book by Siobhan Vivian, who also wrote The List. Natalie Sterling is an overachiever - she gets perfect grades, is involved in extracurricular activities and wants to become student council president. She's always prided herself on being a good girl, but thanks to her old babysitting charge, Spencer Biddle, she finds herself questioning what that really means. This is one of those odd books where I'm not entirely sure if I like it or not.

The books attacks the good girl/bad girl dichotomy with all the subtly of a sledgehammer, but it's one the world sorely needs. It also attacks the difference between a woman being sexy and sexualised, pointing out that there is nothing wrong with a girl being sexy if that's her choice. Another thing it deals with is girls being judged more harshly for the same things then boys, and how girls are held to a different standard.

However, the book refuses to show whether it thinks Natalie or Spencer's view is right. I don't know whether this was a cowardly cop-out by the author, or simply a way for the reader to make their own decisions. If anything, I feel somewhere in between. I hate the way girls are shamed for having sex, I think However, I do believe there is such a thing as too young to be interested in boys, and where that falls depends on each teenager and their level of maturity. By the end of the book, the message is so mixed up that it was hard to see what the author's intentions with it were.

I found I could not warm to Natalie over the course of the book - her being judgemental yet realising the error of her ways would be one thing, yet she is also hugely hypocritical about it, too.  Not that she didn't come up with some good ideas - the empowerment sleepover was a great idea in theory. However, she was unwilling to let any of the other girls speak their mind. Throughout the book, she labels girls as good or bad upon meeting them. I found I liked both Spencer and her friend Autumn more. Connor, the love interest, was a really nice young boy, too.

The writing is workable, pedestrian at best. It's not the sort of prose that will win awards, but it works. The speech I actually found realistic, especially from the high school boys. Even though I know that not all boys think like that, I know a lot of boys will join in that sort of discussion to try and fit in.

The race for student council president is almost funnier now then it was when the book was published. I mean a peculiar kind of funny, not hilarious funny. A female candidate with a better track record goes against an under-qualified male, only in it for a laugh? Yet he seems to be in with a chance, because he's popular?

I recommend this series for young adults who are starting to show interest in relationships, so long as they have someone to discuss it with.

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