Book Review: Like Other Girls (Claire Hennessy)

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 288

Release Date: May 25th 2017

Summary:

Here’s what Lauren knows: she’s not like other girls. She also knows it’s problematic to say that – what’s wrong with girls? She’s even fancied some in the past. But if you were stuck in St Agnes’s, her posh all-girls school, you’d feel like that too. Here everyone’s expected to be Perfect Young Ladies, it’s even a song in the painfully awful musical they’re putting on this year. And obviously said musical is directed by Lauren’s arch nemesis.

Under it all though, Lauren’s heart is bruised. Her boyfriend thinks she’s crazy and her best friend’s going through something Lauren can’t understand… so when Lauren realises she’s facing every teenage girl’s worst nightmare, she has nowhere to turn. Maybe she should just give in to everything. Be like other girls. That’s all so much easier … right?

Review

Ah where to start with this one?!

I guess right at the beginning, which would be the title. Plenty of people have ranted about the ‘not like other girls’ cliche that pops up a lot in YA and real life. The blurb admits it’s a problematic thing to say, but I don’t think it’s enough to just admit it. Lauren really annoyed me in her attitudes towards other girls. In one of the opening scenes, she describes the girls around her as either make up obsessed bitches or nerds. It’s such a stereotype and got my back up straight away. Girl’s school isn’t that black and white (trust me, I’ve been there).

Secondly, Lauren’s transphobia really put me off her. I tried to be understanding of her point of view, and I know it can be hard to understand when someone close to you comes out as trans (especially someone you fancied) but her attitude just sucked. I get that this was addressed in the book towards the end but I’m not sure it was enough. I appreciate that a lot of characters did call her out on it but she never seemed to see how awful she was being.

On to the pregnancy storyline. This was brutal. I know things work differently in Ireland but I have to say, I had no idea how bad it is. It’s insane to me that a woman can’t choose what happens to her body, especially in terrible circumstances (Lauren’s incest-rape thing being a prime example). This is such an important story to tell, especially with how things are in Ireland at the moment. This fictional account is heartbreaking, but it’s even more heartbreaking to think women are going through this in Ireland right now.

So, slightly conflicted on this one. Despite my problems with it, I did speed through it and it does deal with some important issues. I’m all for flawed characters, I’m all for unlikeable characters, but I think Lauren just wasn’t for me.

3

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited (Becky Albertalli)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Penguin

Pages: 300

Release Date: April 11th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Review:

This was a really cute, fun book about romance, crushes and family. There’s a great diverse range of characters and three of the most lovely little love stories.

Love story one, and the main one of the book, is Molly. She’s had 26 crushes in her life – 25 of which have not been Lin Manuel Miranda – but she’s never acted on any of them. Enter cute, hipster Will who’s fun and friendly and also the best friend of her sister’s girlfriend. If she can date him then she can keep her sister close and have her first kiss too. But then there’s Reid, her nerdy co-worker who she’s super relaxed around and might just be even better crush material, as long as he doesn’t fall for her best friend Olivia…

Reid was the obvious contender for a real crush in my eyes, despite Will being very cute. I thought he’d end up being a stereotypical good looking ass but he was actually very sweet. To me though, he just wasn’t the right one for Molly, while Reid was someone she could talk to and hang out with, which is more important to a relationship than butterflies in the stomach. I liked Molly’s theory about why she had never acted on her crushes and how she just needed to be rejected to get it over with. When you’re young you sometimes think that being rejected by a crush is the worst thing that could happen, and while it might not be great and could be awkward for a while, you’ll very soon get over it. Trust me.

Love story two is Molly’s twin Cassie and Mina, a girl they meet in a club and who becomes Cassie’s first serious girlfriend. These two are adorable together and I loved the way their story was written. The;r relationship puts a strain on Cassie and Molly’s relationship, which Cassie does her best to balance but things inevitably get complicated along the way.

The third is between their two moms, Nadine and Patty. Patty had the twins via a sperm donor, and many years later Nadine had their little brother Xavier by the same donor, which I thought was really sweet. During the book, gay marriage is legalised and Nadine and Patty can finally get married. I think what I loved most about this was just seeing an LGBTQ+ family living a normal and happy life. It just made me smile.

There’s ups and downs in the book as Molly and Cassie fall out, Mina meets their slightly racist Grandma and Reid looks like he might get his head turned by newly single Olivia. I got frustrated with Molly because I just wanted her to talk to Cassie and Reid rather than making assumptions about what was going on with them. Communicate, people, it’s important!

This was a book that just made me smile with all its lovely characters and relationships. It’s great to see a diverse range of characters in a book, and I love an LGBTQ+ book that isn’t a coming out story too. If you’re looking for a diverse contemporary romance read then this one’s for you.

4