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Book Review ♡ What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

title ♡ what kind of girl
author ♡ alyssa sheinmel
genre ♡ young adult; health
pages ♡ 384
publisher ♡ sourcebooks fire; atom
series ♡ no
release date ♡ february 1, 2020
♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ [ 5 out of 5 ]

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 polcie? 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.

What Kind of Girl is undoubtedly going to be one of the most influential books I’ve read this year. This poignant tale of two teenage girls is bound to strike a nerve with almost anyone who picks up the book. It has an important impact and will leave you quite literally shell-shocked.

Told from two perspectives, What Kind of Girl follows two teenage friends – Maya and Juniper. I really liked both the characters. They were well-rounded, in-depth characters with honest thoughts and feelings. I could relate to Maya when she questioned whether her every move would be scrutinised. I felt the air closing around me when Juniper suffered an anxiety attack. Maya was undoubtedly brave, though I could sense that she was still naive. Not as naive as she had been, but it was very clear that though she was developed, she wasn’t fully there yet. This was not a bad thing – Maya is a teenager. It would be strange for her to be fully emotionally developed, with a complete understanding of wrong and right. I know plenty of adults who still struggle with that today – let alone teenagers.

The book does touch upon a lot of trigger warnings, such as dating abuse, bulimia, self harm, anxiety and drug use. Alyssa Sheinmel beautifully portrays both girl’s struggle: from the insanely convincing portrayal of modern day victim blaming to an interesting take on how we allow labels define us in society. For a long time in the novel, the only name we hear is Mike. It’s a complex route to take in withholding the main characters’ names. It worked, because I was drawn in – wondering who the labels could possibly belong to.

“Have you discussed this with your parents?” she asked. I shook my head. “With any of your friends here?” I shook my head again. “Why not?”

It was about then that I began to wonder whether I’d gone to the wrong person.

Though the antagonist of the story, Mike was a character that is needed in fiction today. There is this massive expectation that all the abusive men in the world are drunks, or rude, or a ‘bad boy’. Mike was none of these things: he was charismatic and charming, popular and well loved. He was the golden boy, on track to receive a scholarship and in a relationship outside eyes adored. This speaks absolute volumes to me, as it’s important to be telling people that the nice guys can be just as abusive as the bad guys. It’s important to emphasise that just because your partner is well-loved and sweet to everyone else, you can report them when they do something that’s not right.

I was completely blown away by the novel. It didn’t drag or feel drawn out – each moment having it’s own particular purpose to the story. Every thought was well planned, every character movement progressing the story perfectly. It’s increasingly rare to find a book that can pull you to the side and make you contemplate the seriousness of the issues mentioned above.

When this book is finally published on 1 February 2020, I advise you to buy a copy and give it a read. My review won’t do it enough justice – but this is the kind of empowering book young teenagers need to be reading. Perhaps if there had of been more books around like this when I was younger, I wouldn’t have allowed myself to fall victim to abuse. I wouldn’t have believed that it was love, or that I would be blamed for someone else’s wrong actions.

I think you need to read this book.

♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡


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