Synopsis from Goodreads.
“Evie is different. Not just her upbringing-though that’s certainly been unusual-but also her mindset. She’s smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School.
It doesn’t take this homeschooled kid long to discover that high school is a whole new world, and not in the way she expected. It’s also a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn, failing to follow or even understand the rules, and proposing solutions that aren’t welcome or accepted.
Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. Big changes. The movement she starts takes off, but before she realizes what’s happening, her plan spirals out of control, forcing her to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend.”
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
So that’s what Mean Girls would have been like were it not for Ms Fey.
A heroine who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Homeschooling (a concept that, I guess, does exist in the UK but I’ve never met anyone who has been!) The environment. Diversity. Teenage rebellion, a particular weakness of mine. Really intriguing issues brought up that I haven’t read about in a YA book. The quotes at the beginning of the chapters- they were lovely and I wrote a few down in my quote book that I own. Because this girl is different.
OK… right well. I don’t want to say ‘Where to start?’ because that would be cruel. And even though I do have a lot of things to say about this book… I did enjoy this book, kinda. It provided me with a lot of laughter and, as long as you didn’t take it seriously, it was perfectly harmless.
But anyway… where to start?
Evie, I’ll elaborate in the heroine section, but she managed to simultaneously annoy me and also feel like I was single-handedly destroying the world. Quite a feat, eh?
This book had something to say… and boy did it say it. It’s safe to say that about 75% I had no idea what was going on in regards to the high school politics/blogs/Burn Book…. I mean… um, lightning strikes. The really intriguing issues brought up that I haven’t read about in a YA book….? Wow….well 100 Brownie points for the idea but I’m going to take them off you for execution.
And…. Deep breaths Jo…. The love interest. THE LOOOOOVE INTEREST. But more on this later.
Oh Evie. Evening Mornindew or whatever it is your terrifying mum called you. I once knew a girl like you (well OK, not really… she was like a 5th of the crazy that you were but she still annoyed me, so imagine how I felt about you.) She would walk around finding drama and injustice in every corner of the world and strive, strive, striiiiive to get it fixed. I’m not knocking her action- because I believe that people should stand up and speak out- but come onnn. You’re in high school. There is plenty of time to do that kind of stuff when you leave. Maybe it’s just me… (although Rajas, lover boy, agrees with me “It just…is what it is, you know?”)
I imagine Evie to be the friend of a friend who sometimes sits with you at dinner and talks the entire time about how awful the world is and everyone just sits there in stunned silence before nibbling their Dairylea sandwiches awkwardly.
I respected Evie for standing up for herself and her fellow students but it annoyed me how naïve and inconsistent she was. She wanted to go to high school for her final year so she could experience it before going to college and she’s all giddy because she’s seen every John Hughes film and she has based her expectations on American schools on that (So far, so me). But then when she gets to school and sees that it’s not actually like that, she gets all mental and starts petitioning about everything and talking back to teachers AND THEN wonders why she keeps getting all these detentions. Um… haven’t you seen The Breakfast Club?!
Also… seriously Evie, I know you haven’t been around boys a lot because you’ve been living in a bubble (literally… they live in a bubble) but do not lose your mind when a boy talks to you… even if he does look like a “crunchier, leaner version of Kumar from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”. I don’t even know what that means…. Or that I want to.
Which brings me, reluctantly dragging my feet and foaming at the mouth, to….
Rajas. I really liked you. You were cute, sweet, you love a ramshackle old car which you know is one of my greatest weaknesses and, I won’t lie to you, I’d probably have fancied you if you went to my high school (and we got around the fact that you were in an all girl’s school) and you were, well.. um, real.
But most importantly… you were patient. Which was important in this book. Because all the girls were INSANE.
I think I’m going to crown Evie as the Queen of Insta-Love. Yes, it was cute that he rescued you from a ravine or whatever hole you’d fell down… but that does not mean you are in love with him because you can see drops of sweat forming on the back of his neck. And you should probably not tell a boy you’re in love with that you don’t shave your legs. It’s just plain weird, no wonder he looked stricken.
BUT- even though this love story had dramatic ups and downs that Kathy and Heathcliff would have been proud of- the majority of my laughs did come from this section and it’s not because it was bad writing, just because I am cynical and twisted. I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from this book: “But the way I feel about Rajas. It makes me soft and exposed, like a raw oyster. My protective shell has been shucked. And then tossed out to sea. And then sucked away with a riptide.”
Oh to be young and in love….
Again, Jacinda… I liked you, even though you also caught the crazy bug that apparently was being fed into the water system at this high school. You were intelligent, you were ambitious and you are a cheerleader. I also liked your story line, even if it did get looked over a little. I thought the bits that we did see (except maybe the ending) were portrayed realistically and I would’ve loved to have found out more about your situation.
You did say the word ‘like’ approximately a gabillion times. But I’ll let you off…. Because you’re a cheerleader and you have a mean streak. Eep.
OK, I wanted to choose a song about the environment, because Evie liked preserving the environment and I do too. Except in comparison to Evie, I practically run around cutting rainforests, coaxing cows to fart more and I put my tin cans in the green bin instead of the blue bin… for giggles. But, I liked this about Evie and I can imagine her and her mother dancing around their bubble to this.
9/10. Normally when a book is so full of boy-induced angst, I ignore it. But it was impossible to ignore it in this book, thankfully, because it made my day. There is a lot of ‘WHY ME?!’ rants that went on for most of the book that also bumped up the angst scale.
However, there were quite a few issues that were bubbling under the surface that, unfortunately, were only hinted at but still shocked me. I think this book would have reached me on a deeper level if Ms Johnson had chosen to explore some of these issues that were either forgotten about or unresolved towards the end.
People who have always wondered what people who are home schooled are really like. People who fall in love with every boy they see, especially the crunchy lean ones. People who like wood tech classes. People who have ever wondered what it would be like to, literally, take a roll in the hay. People who roll their eyes at the people who actually answer the rhetorical questions that the teachers write on the boards, suck ups. People who secretly hope think that American High Schools are really that cliquey and OTT. People who like their love stories with lots of unnecessary, but highly amusing angst (I’m honestly considering getting ‘Cheese grater of love’ tattooed on my fod) People who don’t understand that permanent records are… um, well… permanent. People who can read the words ‘This girl is different’ at least 9 times in a book without punching things. People who base their expectations of America on John Hughes’ films (I’ve been to America twice and this has never happened to me… I’M WAITING, AMERICA!) People who like to use Harry Potter insignia to point out social injustice.
I received this book from Peachtree Publishers via Netgalley.