**Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reader’s copy of What Kind of Girl through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to them and the publishers for this opportunity.
What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel is a young adult contemporary novel that comes out on February 4th. It is a poignant story that is highly relevant to today’s society as it deals with sensitive subjects in a nuanced way. I gave the novel 5 stars on Goodreads.
Here is the summary from Goodreads:
Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.
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.
This book was so good. I was drawn in by the cover, sold on the summary, and blown away by the story. As always happens with a NetGalley eARC for me, it did take me a little while to get into it. However, once I was interested, I found myself obsessed. I had a really hard time putting it down and ended up finishing it in one sitting. I just had to know how everything was going to play out.
As you probably have learned from reading the summary, the book does deal with some sensitive subject matter. An obvious content warning for this novel would be for the domestic abuse. However, I would also like to inform you that this novel discusses eating disorders, bulimia specifically, and cutting. There is also a fair amount of drug use. I don’t have any triggers, personally, but there were definitely some unsettling moments in this story, specifically for me in the depictions of cutting. So I feel that I have to do my due diligence and make sure that I give you a heads up before you pick this book up at my recommendation.
The book sets out as a multi-point of view novel. Initially none of the girls are named, and they are simply identified by a ‘cliche’ aspect of them or their personality such as ‘The Popular Girl’ or ‘The Girlfriend’. It makes you wonder who each of these girls are and how they are going to play into the story. The reveal of how they all played into the story was super fantastic, and also admittedly a little confusing. I know that sounds contradictory, but it made me think a fair bit and then once I processed it, I was rather impressed.
I want to be careful not to spoil too much in this story because I think that the ways that the layers peeled back are totally worth waiting for. Therefore I am going to try and keep my review rather general. I loved the way the story was written. I really enjoyed the different points of view and seeing how different characters had different perceptions of the other characters and then comparing those perceptions to how the characters saw themselves. This story is really about how you have to understand that people are more than just a label, and also that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to most people. That was a really highlight of the story for me.
Another major highlight of the novel was the friendship of the two main characters. It came across in a really realistic way. They had their differences and struggles. Bad things happened, but in the end it brought them closer together. Obviously, that doesn’t excuse the bad things that happened, but it was interesting to see them fight for their friendship. It was really well done.
I also think that the way that the sensitive topics were dealt with was handled well. None of it felt glorified, and the characters seemed to understand that what they were doing wasn’t good. The novel did a good job of showing how sometimes these things can seem gray at the outset and be more complicated for those involved then one might think.
Overall, I highly recommend this book, so make sure you check it out when it comes out!