13 May 2011

Not That Kind of Girl - Siobhan Vivian

Not That Kind of Girl

Rarely do I review books that I don’t like.  I prefer to just let them be.  Why?  Because the book that I loathe might be your favorite book of all times.  But this book is different for a few reasons.  First of all, I’m quite sure that teenagers will like this book and they’ll get a lot out of it.  Second, it really wasn’t terrible – I just didn’t like one character.  Ironically, when I was going back through my reading list, I noticed the notes I’d taken from the seminar where I’d first heard about Not That Kind of Girl.  The presenter, Karol Sacca of the Parachute Branch of the Garfield Public Libraries (I want to be her when I grow up, btw) had said that the book was worth reading, but that you had to get past the snobbiness of the main character.

Ha.  Understatement.  I’d say you have to get past the…uh…b-word-iness of the main character*.

Natalie is your quintessential good girl.  She keeps herself covered, she isn’t boy crazy and she knows what’s important in life and in high school.  Her best friend Autumn made a huge mistake as a freshman, and has spent the last four years being called “Fish Sticks” – something that Natalie, being the wonderful best friend that she is, has done her best to help her deal with.  Now that Natalie has been voted SBA president, she is determined to make the most of her senior year.  Only not everyone sees things the way she does.  Along comes Sterling, a freshman who is sexified to the max, and who is not afraid of attention.  Natalie, being the wonderful person that she is, decides to take Sterling under her wing and teach her how to “survive” high school.  Only Sterling doesn’t want her help.  And all of a sudden, neither does Autumn.  Natalie is completely confused that these two, clearly misguided young women would want to ignore her advice and chase after boys.  Enter quintessential hunky high school guy, Connor.  After overhearing him defend her to his Neanderthal buddies, Natalie is completely taken with him, and they start meeting in private.  Now Natalie not only has no friends, she has the burden of a secret weighing on her and eventually, everything crashes and burns, and Natalie has to face the web she’s woven for herself and those she cares about.

Could you sense the sarcasm in that review?  Natalie is not just snobby, she’s a downright b…b…brat.  The book is told in first person, so having that direct line into Natalie’s thoughts adds to her holier-than-thou attitude.  In true YA fashion, things turn out fine in the end and Natalie learns her lesson, but even that wasn’t enough to redeem her in my eyes.  I can’t imagine a world where everyone is so quickly forgiving of someone who has acted so stuck-up for four years.  I know if I were in high school, I would have enjoyed seeing a fall like Natalie took (people, I’m human, and honest, go with it).

But on the other hand, the book has some really poignant moments and lessons for teens, like the fact that the confident girls really aren’t as confident as they seem, and that being made fun of is not the end of the world.  Oh, and the fact that the snotty girls are just as unsure of themselves as everyone else.  Let’s all take a moment to remember high school – we thought we knew and that we were cool, but really?  We were WRONG.  And that was the one redeeming quality of the book:  Natalie realizes that she, the know-it-all good girl, actually doesn’t know it all.

*Just realized I’ve never established if this is going to be a PG or a PG-13 blog.  Hm…

Here are some other great reviews of this book:

Korianne Speaks – She actually loved the book!

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