Today I am back to review another new release – What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel. This literally came out two days ago, so I hope this post inspires you to add it to your TBR list. I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of this book from NetGalley. It is a contemporary YA novel that follows two different POV’s. The first is from Maya’s perspective, who reports her abusive boyfriend to the principal. The second is from her best friend Juniper’s perspective and how she supports Maya, as well as dealing with her own troubles. As with every review, I am going to be very honest, discuss my thoughts and tell you if I feel it’s worth checking out. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Trigger Warnings: physical abuse, sexual abuse, self-harm, bulimia, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety and substance abuse.
WHAT THIS BOOK DOES RIGHT
This book raises an extremely important issue: how females are treated in the aftermath of abuse. When Maya reports being physically assaulted by beloved sports star and academic Mike Parker, the students (and teachers) at North Bay Academy scramble to take sides. Instead of rallying to support her, a lot of them ask ‘why didn’t she report him sooner’ as though it was her fault. They question why she went to the principal instead of the police. Did she do something to provoke him? Mike is such a good guy, he would never do that. I appreciate how real this book is. A lot of the time, when a woman is abused by a man, she is told she is lying. There is a lot of boys will be boys talk and how Maya shouldn’t let this one thing ruin Mike’s career, as if his actions were minuscule. It takes a brave person to stand up, especially in high school, and demand justice.
I was a fan of the character development in this story; particularly from Juniper. She is perceived as an extremely beautiful and put together girl, but behind closed doors there is so much insecurity and suffering. This highlights another pivotal message: that we cannot always claim to know what a person is going through just by looking at them.
The writing was powerful and cutting. Alyssa did a good job at weaving the two stories together. There is also a ton of representation, not only mentally but physically. We have LGBT characters, characters of colour and a huge list of trigger warnings that I have mentioned at the beginning of this post. I feel it will connect with a lot of teens and make them feel seen/heard.
WHAT THIS BOOK DOES WRONG
It’s very difficult to write about eating disorders without it influencing young girls to develop one. Unfortunately I feel like the author didn’t do a good enough job at protecting readers from going down the same path. The character with bulimia is described as quite thin already, but she obsesses over a bit of extra weight here and there. There is no real resolution at the end where she realises she’s beautiful as she is. I worry about the ramifications this may have on readers.
Furthermore, the book structure itself is quite odd. It starts off with chapters titled: ‘The Bulimic’, ‘The Popular Girl’ etc and then when it is revealed to be Maya and Juniper, the chapters begin with just their names. It felt a bit unnecessary for me.
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this book 4/5 stars. I truly enjoyed it and felt it was very relevant/relatable.
If you are interested, you can order a copy here.
I hope you enjoyed this honest review. Let me know your thoughts down below. I appreciate all feedback. Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo
Disclaimer: This post contains links to my Book Depository Affiliate which helps fund my blog, I am not being paid or sponsored for this post/products – all my thoughts/opinions are my own