Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Released: September 1st, 2010
Grade rating: B+
Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things. But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you wants to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out. Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.
Not That Kind of Girl is a brilliantly written, empowering contemporary novel from an author completely new to me. I'd heard of Siobhan Vivian before when another of her books, Same Difference, was published, but hadn't yet read anything by her. I'm glad I've finally joined the Siobhan fanclub though, as this was well worth a read.
Natalie was an interesting character, as she often acted as she thought she should, rather than how she wanted to. She was a great role model and perfect student, and had the respect of her peers and teachers throughout the school. She also had a rock-solid friendship with best friend Autumn, and thought the boys of her school were degrading, sexist idiots. Which some of them were, that's for sure. She stood up to all of them and did what she thought was right, which I think is an important thing for any girl to do.
The themes and issues explored in Not That Kind of Girl gave me food for thought, that's for sure. I'm not an active supporter of feminism, but after reading this book I kind of wish I was. I never really think of how women are objectified and used, because it's just something that's always present in the media, but I now understand how important it is for people to speak out and draw attention to how people are treated.
Choice also played a big part in Natalie's story, and Vivian never shied away from depicting a 17-year-old girl's life accurately and realistically. Natalie made some bad decisions, yes, but she also came out of herself and started doing things she wanted to, not things she thought were expected of her. A boy, Connor, helped her with this, and their relationship was fantastic to read. There wasn't as much romance as I thought there would be, but I don't think it detracted anything from the story, and what there was more than made up for it!
I ordered Same Difference when I was only halfway through this book, which should give some indication of how much I was enjoying it. If you're a fan of contemporary YA then you really should read Not That Kind of Girl. It gave me lots to think about, and I can't wait to read more by this author!