Occasionally flawed, but overall an engrossing page-turner
‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ is a very enjoyable read, as you would expect from Holly Bourne. It works on two levels, both as a story of teenage friendship, preoccupation and romance; and on a deeper level as an exploration of sexism and possible responses to it.
On the down side, I struggled with the beginning. I almost didn’t read on past the first 2 chapters as it seemed formulaic and overdone. There was too much emotion without sufficient reason, and I couldn’t relate to the character. Possibly if I’d read the first 2 in the trilogy this wouldn’t have been such a problem. But … once I did read on I loved it. I began to engage with the characters. Ok, maybe Lottie is a bit over-the-top, but her intentions are good and you progress with your heart in your mouth, hoping that it will work out for her and admiring her bravery and really not wanting her to do anything silly.
I wasn’t quite sure about the whole obsession with Cambridge. This struck me as, yet again, the obsession of an exceptionally bright student, and hardly of interest to most of us. And there are (a lot of) times when we get a stream-of-consciousness of Lottie’s thought which go on far too long and are often rambling and repetitive. Teenagers may well think like this but do we have to read it verbatim?
So why am I giving this book 4 piranhas when there are so many things about it that irritated me? Because there are also so many things I loved! a) the theme of a feminist club and girls who are trying to change the world, that I am totally behind; b) Lottie is a great kick-ass character and c) Will is an excellent hero, attractive, annoying and definitely not dominant. And overall this is a worldview I can completely agree with, both Lottie’s desire to do good, and how much easier it is to do this ‘for others’ than when she herself feels attacked.
Review by Gill-Marie Stewart
Gill-Marie writes YA mystery/romances as Gill-Marie Stewart. As Gilly Stewart she also writes women’s contemporary fiction. The first book in her YA series about George and Finn is Music and Lies (try the first chapter here).