Thursday, September 1, 2011

GIRL WONDER by Alexa Martin

Lately I've been all about the realistic fiction!  Here's a look at a title I got off NetGalley a little while back:

Love this cover!
On the surface, GIRL WONDER by Alexa Martin seems like a pretty light novel. Our MC, Charlotte, has just moved to a new town and she's starting a new school--for her senior year of high school. But not the fancy private school that her younger brother is going to, because she didn't get accepted. Charlotte has discalculia, a learning difference that is described as dyslexia but with numbers rather than letters. Her poor math scores land her in the local public school, the description of which kind of reminded of the kind of school found in inspirational teacher movies--a combination of students who sleep through class and others who are ready to eat their teachers alive, and teachers who little to no control over their class or who just don't care that much anymore. The only bright spot of the entire school is the top floor, which is renovated and dedicated to the gifted student program--just another thing that Charlotte's learning issues has kept out of her reach.

Things look pretty bleak for Charlotte until she's befriended by Amanda, the hot pink-haired rebel from the gifted program. Amanda is like the Cher to Charlotte's Tai (yay, Clueless references!) and suddenly Charlotte finds herself climbing the social ladder higher than she ever imagined.

I figured I knew how this plot would play out. Amanda and Charlotte would be friends, issues would escalate, and then, of course, Charlotte would find herself friend-dumped and have to figure out where her real relationships were. But GIRL WONDER was much more nuanced than that. Martin addresses a lot of real high school issues--friends, boyfriends, college applications, drugs and drinking, home life issues--in a way that often surprised me. I won't lie--some of the scenes kind of shocked me and reminded me just how long it's been since I've been in high school, and how much things have changed and become even more difficult to navigate.

Charlotte was a character who I didn't find likable all the time--I cringed at some of her wrong turns and her naive assumptions--but you know what? I LIKED that I didn't like her all the time. It made her feel that much more human to me. Like how even though you've got that best friend from middle school/high school/college/whatever that you would walk through fire for, sometimes that just annoy you, but in the end you love them anyway? Charlotte was like that for me. Plus, it made her transformation throughout the book that much more satisfying to read.

GIRL WONDER is definitely worth picking up if you already love contemporary/realistic YA--or even if you don't always, like me. It's a little different, a little edgier, and worth your time!

(I got this book for free from NetGalley, and sadly no one is sending me chocolate cake or jewelry for writing this review.  I mean, unless you want to.  But you all should definitely check out NetGalley!)

1 comment:

  1. Oh my God... I didn't know there was another book about dyscalculia out there. I have it and am always looking for fictional books that touch on it.


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