What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel. Review of a book with many triggers, not easy to read but with a very realistic portraying of suffering teenagers.

Synopsis

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 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.

 

 

Review

 

Be warned about these triggers: domestic violence, drug use, cheating,self-harm, bulimia, panic attacks.

 

This book would be very hard to rate for me.

It is not easy to read. Not because of the topic, even if there are really hard and triggering topics but because of the writing style.

Alyssa Sheinmel chose to have us BE in the girls heads. The first part we have many “girls” to follow: The Popular Girl, The Girlfriend, The Bulimic, The … So many different points of view. And a big surprise by the end of the first part.

The second part is about another set of girls: The burnout, the anxious girl, …

Every girl is thinking SO MUCH! They have so many inner dialogs, self-doubts, questions, fears, theories ….it was exhausting to read and also made for a very slow pacing. I was so confused in the beginning!

Yet even if the reading experience was laborious it was also genius to make us FEEL what these girls were going through. And I was thinking: “My God, they are so lost, alone, afraid. Being them must be exhausting.”

 

If I really had to rate the book it would be 3 stars as I am conflicted between the arduous reading experience yet conscious of the audacity and brilliance of the writing choice and topics broached.

 

Now what is this book about?

 

I don’t want to spoil your fun but the synopsis does not give many things to build upon yet triggers have to be mentioned.

This book is about “the girlfriend” who has been hit one time too many by Mike Parker, school golden boy, and decides to go to the school’s principal.

So one topic is about abuse.

The school and even parents will talk about it and people will question why she did not report Mike sooner as he beat her for months. She has to hide something right? Maybe he didn’t do it? Maybe she got confused? Surely, he is too polite, too good to do such thing right?

““Was it always this bad?” Mom gestures to my eye. I shake my head, and she looks relieved. She doesn’t want to think that I stayed when it was this bad. She wants to think that the minute it crossed the line (what line? Who says where the line is?), I stood up for myself. That’s what any self-respecting girl would do in this day and age. That’s the kind of girl she wants to believe she raised me to be. And she wants to think that if it had always been this bad, she would’ve seen it sooner.”

 

This topic is cleverly analyzed in all its complexity and contradictory emotions and choices.

 

But other girls are part of this story where the school takes sides.

You have the bulimic.

You have the anxious girl.

You have the burnout…

“But other people don’t understand how hurting yourself could possibly feel more right than not. Even though I know it shouldn’t.”

 

 

This story is a window into some very heavy suffering some teenagers (or even adults) go through when faced with high expectations and pressure. From teachers, from parents, from friends, from lovers …

Being a teenager is a hard time and that’s “What Kind of Girl” demonstrates. With enormous empathy and compassion for these girls who wear masks to meet what they think are others expectations.

 

It also shows that humans have so many facets and we choose the ones we want others to see, sometimes with grave consequences for our self being or others. No one is perfect, no one is made of only one facet and accepting them as a whole is liberating.

“I take my hands out of my pockets. They’re still shaking, just a little bit. But I’m done hiding them. I’m done hiding me.”

 

Reading this story is painful but reading this story is also eye opening and …just.  We owe it to everyone going through rough times. To acknowledge and recognize their pain. To understand their torments. To let them know that they have the right to be loved for who they really are, flaws and all.

 

Have you read similar books? What do you think about books out of your comfort zone?

Thanks for reading!

Sophie

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10 Replies to “What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel. Review of a book with many triggers, not easy to read but with a very realistic portraying of suffering teenagers.”

  1. Olivia-Savannah says: Reply

    It can be hard to rate and review tough books like this, but it sounds like something I am going to really appreciate seeing how everyone deals with their different stories and difficulties that they are facing… it sounds emotionally deep!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      It truly is Olivia and surprising as well!

  2. I try to make it a point to read outside my comfort zone now and again. I wish there had been more authors writing about this stuff when I was a teen.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Me too Laura! Teen literature has changed drastically since I was a teenager myself!

  3. I have have read several of Sheinmel’s books, and they tend to the darker, grittier side. It sounds like the way she explored the issues was interesting, and I am sure she meant to make the reader uncomfortable. I’ll have to make sure I am in the right headspace, when I start this one

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I hadn’t read any of her books before Sam and didn’t know what to expect honestly!

  4. Sounds like a beautiful story here even if it was exhausting with what these girls go through. Its always good to have stories like this though that help you gain a different perspective on the human condition

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly! It’s walking in the other’s shoes and very enlightening!

  5. This sounds like a powerful story. Made even more so by the way Sheinmel chose to tell it. It’s so important to shine a lot on tough topics… even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly Tanya!

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