Review: Not That Kind Of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

 

Book Title/Author: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Publisher/Year: Push (Goodreads & Amazon are conflicting — one says 2010 while the other says 2011)
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: The List, Burn For Burn, Same Difference, A Little Friendly Advice

Amazon| Goodreads |Siobhan Vivian’s Website

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie is the good girl — she’s smart,  an overachiever  and is running for Student Council. She holds her reputation in the highest regard and knows what she wants out of a relationship and won’t accept anything less; much less the typical immature, jerk fare of her high school. She’s Type-A and has it in her mind how she and her friends should act as women. But do they agree with her about what kind of girl they should be? Soon she realizes that some of the closest people in her life might not completely share her opinions and are keeping secrets from her. The freshman girls are challenging Natalie’s ideals with their provocative take on female sexuality  and boys she said she’d never give the time of day are suddenly surprising her into bending her own rules. How will Natalie continue to be that kind of girl she’s always thought she should be when so many things are threatening it?

I had heard everyone rave about this one and again felt super behind on my YA contemps since I started reading YA late in the game. The lovely Carla (formerly of The Crooked Shelf but now blogs over with the super fab Jen at Makeshift Bookmark) told me in her very convincing British accent that I MUST read it. So I did. And I really, really enjoyed it. Definitely a book I wish I would have read in high school and definitely a book I think could be such an amazing book for teen girls to discuss together! I will say that, as an adult, I felt I could SO appreciate this book and read it with a different lens.

I have to say – Natalie annoyed the hell out of me most of the time but I really loved her. But confession time? I think my annoyance was spawned from the fact I was SO SO like Natalie in high school. While I can’t say I was super uptight in general nor was I THAT high strung about school, I was such a “goodie-goodie” and had super high standards that I didn’t think most people didn’t live up to. Those girls talking about sex during homeroom? Yep, they were sluts. I didn’t need to know anything about them. I just knew I didn’t want to be like THEM. I wasn’t that type of girl. I didn’t dress like a “slut” nor did I sleep around. And that’s pretty much how Natalie was. We both were super judgey. I think that’s why she annoys me so much because I was coming face to face with my high school self. I’m glad I had my own standards but I needed to chill the EFF out.

So what I really loved about this book is that it opened up a FANTASTIC platform to talk about slut-shaming, feminism and sexuality. It wasn’t preachy and it didn’t say which “kind of girl” was the right path. You saw girls who were struggling to figure out who they were and their path and what was right for them. Natalie herself crosses her own lines (I think that a lot of us girls do that. “Oh I would NEVER DO THAT.”) and Spencer does see the downsides to some of her thinking.  I loved the contrast of Natalie and Spencer (the freshman who dresses provocatively and openly talks about wanting to have sex with guys). Siobhan Vivian shows you sides of both that you might agree with and makes you think critically and challenge your notions of sexuality and feminism — despite who you identify with more. ALL while not being preachy. It was just so well done that I feel the need to slow clap and whistle (though I can’t really in real life).  Just WOW.  And I know this seems a lot like the whole point of Mean Girls — but seriously, this book shows that it’s SO important how we as women treat each other and judge each other. I JUST LOVED IT.

I can’t say I LOVED the romance but that, to me, wasn’t the shining part of this novel nor the point but I thought it DID have it’s place. It was ok but not my favorite. I’ll tell you that Siobhan really knows how to write characters — all of them. I could see them as real people that had roamed the hallways in my high school back in the day. I could feel the struggles. The pressures of high school, fitting in, determining your sexuality, being yourself. She writes it fabulously and flawlessly. I loved the journey Natalie went through and really grew to care about her and the other girls  — their flaws, mistakes and all!

 

Not That Kind of Girl was truly remarkable! It opens a discussion about feminism/sexuality/slut-shaming in a way that is super easy to relate to and NOT PREACHY like some books end up being. The characterization is top notch, the high school setting was authentic and Siobhan Vivian causes you to take pause and think. I loved that. I’ll be recommending this to people who love contemporary YA books that speak to the normal struggles that girls encounter in high school and really beyond. There isn’t super angsty drama or crazy things that happen — but it tells the story of what a lot of girls go through in high school when trying to figure out what kind of girl they are and want to be.

 

For Fans Of: Realistic contemporary YA about normal struggles teens face, books dealing with feminism/sexuality in a non-preachy way, books that make you think, books with incredible characterization

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? I’m curious to know which girl you identified with more?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 28 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating gelato, listening to music with oversized headphones and teaching her niece how to be as awesome as she is.

Comments

  1. This sounds SO good! I really love YA contemps that deal with feminism . I can definitely see how a lot of people would relate to Natalie. Great review!

    • Me too! I really love that it doesn’t preach too much nor give you the answers to exactly what view of feminism you should take. Like it helps you to start asking the questions based on the difference in Natalie and Spencer’s view of it.

  2. I also just recently read this one! I really liked this one and I loved all the topics that were so nicely packed in this book. I just had a few little problems with Natalie, she was not easy to love!
    But, I say more books like these!

    • Yes, Natalie was definitely hard to love for sure at times! I got SO FRUSTRATED with her but ultimately related to her. Probably because she was pretty similar to me in high school and that annoyed me that I was so judgy and stuff lol

  3. This book is one I have been looking for for a looong time and I’m glad you wrote this review because I forgot about it. And you reminded me about the awesomeness of it. And also, the fact that people relate so much to her is great, since I’m in high school now, I will definitely relate.

    Thanks,
    Great Review

  4. I finally read a book by Siobhan this year and that was Burn for Burn which was co-authored with Jenny Han. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading a book all of her own and I think I’ll be starting with this one. The premise sounds great and I love the fact that it deals with feminism and sexuality but it’s not preachy – woohoo! And after reading your review, I feel like reading soon. So glad you enjoyed it! Fantastic review :D

    • I still need to read Burn for Burn! Definitely start with this one. The next one of hers (solo) I’m going to read is The List because I hear great things about that one too.

  5. I really loved this book! I loved the issues it brought up and that Natalie was very different than most YA contemp characters.

  6. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    This is one of my favorite YA’s that discusses the female image as a teen. I think Siobhan did an excellent job of showing the ugly side to how girls judge other girls. It’s awful, but it’s reality. I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance either, but I can see why it was important to the story. Great review, Jamie!

    • Yes she definitely did such a great job showing that. It’s terrible. I know that I’m not nowhere near as bad as I was back in high school and sometimes college but I still have to catch myself from thinking or saying something about other girls. My sister used to get really judged in high school. She legit dressed like a hooker practically…you could see all her boobs and her skirts were ridiculously short. All the girls were always calling her a slut but the most HILARIOUS part was that my sister was actually still a virgin and had only made out with a few guys before. She was just acting out because she was dealing with my mom getting diagnosed with cancer. It just made me SO mad that girls were saying stuff about her when they didn’t even know her. It’s such an epidemic. I’m so guilty of it though.

      Yes and totally agree! I could see that it had it’s place but didn’t love it!

  7. Great review Jamie, I think my daughter would love this book, so I am sharing it with her.

  8. I think I want to buy this book and save it for when my girls are teenagers (just a couple more years, ugh) and then casually leave it lying around with a note way inside that says, “let me know if you want to talk about this.”

  9. I love the sound of this book – I haven’t read any Siobhan Vivian before, although a couple of hers are on my TBR. I like seeing how YA novels deal with feminism, and this sounds like an awesome example. Great review!

  10. Natalie annoyed me too, but I could not put this book down. INNER TURMOIL

  11. This sounds like something right up my alley. I enjoyed The List by Vivian, but that was my first book by her. I think this one would probably strike the same chords with me as it did you. I was so naive in high school. Haha!

  12. Jamie, you can’t even begin to understand how happy this review has made me!!! I loved this book oh so much. The writing is so compelling and I loved how she managed to weave so much into the plot in terms of modern femininity; I loved the way she dealt with sexuality and the tricky subject of slut-shaming. She never one veers into preachy territory which when she is dealing with such a sensitive subject for many teens is just the mark of an exceptional writer. I love how you captured that perfectly in this review – i am insanely happy that you took from the book the same things that I did.

    now, that scrawled list you have? start crossing more off please and thanks.

  13. Oh wow, this sounds really, really good. I’m relatively new at reading contemporary YA (with the notable exception of Sarah Dessen), so I’m always looking for new titles to read and fall in love with. Sounds like this one that I’m going to have to add to the list!

  14. OH WOW. This sounds incredible. This is where you got me: “Natalie herself crosses her own lines (I think that a lot of us girls do that. “Oh I would NEVER DO THAT.”) and Spencer does see the downsides to some of her thinking.” —> If your blog post said just THIS, I’d still want to pick the book up.

    Also, sometimes I still do that as an adult and when I catch myself, it’s like WHOA CALM DOWN COWGIRL.

    I think I was a little too goody-goody in school too, and I needed to chill WAY out. Like, WAY out. I’m way self-conscious sometimes that some of my old friends still see me that way as an adult when they look at me or talk to me (hello, insecurity) but WOW, I could have used this book in high school too. But in high school, I wasn’t even reading YA. Go figure.

    Great thoughts again, Jamie! I totally want to read this one. Absolutely.

  15. i will have to check this one out!

Trackbacks

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