Book Review: What Kind of Girl - Alyssa Sheinmel

Book Review: What Kind of Girl – Alyssa Sheinmel

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions: Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? Some girls want to rally for his expulsion – and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

As soon as I saw that there was a new Alyssa Sheinmel novel I jumped on requesting it from NetGalley where I was super excited to receive an ARC. I’ve previously read Faceless and thought it was incredibly well written so I wanted to give this a go.

For a chunk of the novel the female characters aren’t given names, instead they’re described by their traits which, although I found it hard to follow initially, I found to be an excellent way of writing. For me, it added to the idea that this could happen to anyone no matter how popular, smart etc – part of me wishes that this could have gone on for longer.

Of course it goes without saying that this is a tough book to read with mentions of violence within a relationship, self harm, Bulimia and mental ill health. If these are difficult for you I’d maybe recommend waiting until you’re in the right headspace.

This is, without a doubt, an important read and one that I hope gets a lot of attention. I think it shows that these things do happen to young people. It also makes you question your own reactions to these kinds of stories, who do you believe and why? Can you separate a person and an accusation? All of these questions will make you think for days after finishing it.

There were point where I struggled to read what was happening, I felt such a range of emotions while reading. For a book to make me feel like that was pretty incredible and I applaud Sheinmel for the writing.

I do wish there was more of a resolution at the end because I feel like it was left quite open and there are also some point where I’m not sure I completely followed who was who and what was happening. That said, the book itself was a good read.

This was a 4 star read from me and I’m definitely going to be reading more of Sheinmel’s books because she can transport me into a story and a person’s hardship.

What I Read In February 2020

What I Read in February 2020

February may be a short month but that didn’t stop me reading. I did find myself in a little bit of a slump in Feb, I think because I read so much in January my brain needed shorter reads. So, here they are – have you read any of them?

On my trip to Brighton I found a copy of Renée Watson’s latest novel What Momma Left Me and I couldn’t leave without it. This is a story about a young girl who’s life changes after the death of her mother. It’s about family, secrets and finding your place in the world. This got 4 stars from me.

Next I picked up an ARC from Netgalley that I was granted. Sincerely, is a sweet collection of poems that was written as part of a proposal. A lovely concept with some sweet poems and a 3 star read for me.

Another NetGalley ARC I received, The Voice Of My Mind, came next and this one just wasn’t for me. It was also a poetry collection (I’ve been pretty into them this month) but I just couldn’t connect with the tone of voice. A 2 star read for me.

I read Always Here For You as part of a book tour I took part in, you can read the post here. This is for younger teenagers and looks at who you’re really talking to online and how young people may find themselves in this situation. A good read that would do well in schools. 4 stars from me.

This Soul Estranged was sent to me by the author for free in exchange for my thoughts. I enjoyed this collection and felt that I could connect with the poems and the tone of voice. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. A 3 star read for me.

Next up another Netgalley ARC, this time it was a graphic novel/information type book. A Quick & Easy Guide To Sex and Disability was a really interesting read and had a good message. I would be interested in a longer guide but obviously that doesn’t match the title! A 4 star read for me!

I got an ARC copy of Diary of a Confused Feminist while working over Christmas but only just got around to it! I wasn’t sure at first because I felt super old (I’m 10 years older than the protagonist eeek) but the second half of the book I was hooked. If you like Holly Bourne I think you’ll like this. Another 4 star read for me.

A bit of a light read (note the sarcasm), Fascism and Democracy is super short but I thought it was incredibly relevant in today’s world. Now, I’ve read a bit of Orwell before and I stand by my earlier assessment that his non-fiction work is long winded. That said, this had interesting ideas and was good to see it through the lense of the 1940s while Hitler was in power. 3 stars from me.

I received an ARC of What Kind of Girl and also bought a physical copy because I really enjoy Alyssa Sheinmel’s way of writing. This looks at domestic violence in young adult relationships. It’s pretty heavy and there’s also details about mental illness and methods of self harm so know that going in if that’s something you struggle with. Another very well written book. 4.5 stars from me.

I also read Letters On Motherhood incredibly quickly because it was such a sweet and wholesome read. In this Giovanna writes letters to her three sons, her husband, parents and herself about motherhood. While I don’t have children I fell in love with this collection and felt it was so honest about the highs and lows. A great read.

I read the poetry collection Surge for a post that you’ll find out about soon! It’s a collection that looks at race in Britain starting with the New Cross Fire, also known as the New Cross Massacre in which 13 young black people were killed. Political, personal and a new perspective this is a really interesting collection. 4 stars and you’ll find out more about it soon.

And finally I picked up a copy of You’re Crushing It by Lex Croucher which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. It’s a quick book which made me laugh out loud more than a few times while reading. It was a 4 star read for me and a nice pick me up.

And finally, thanks to the extra day in the month I also finished A Danger To Herself and Others also by Alyssa Sheinmel which I’ve had on my TBR for a while. It’s an exploration of mental illness and it can be quite a tough read but another excellent book. This got 4.5 stars from me.

I haven’t listened to an audiobook this month – for some reason I’ve struggled getting into them but I’m sure I’ll come out of that soon. Did you read anything good in February? Let me know below!

Book Review: Faceless – Alyssa Sheinmel

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Maisie has a good life, she has a boyfriend whom she loves, a great best friend and athletic ability. While out on a run her life changes forever, after a freak accident during a lightning storm leaves her left for dead, she could never imagine her new reality when she wakes up. Maisie wakes up with most of her face destroyed. After coming to the decision to have a face transplant Maisie should feel lucky, but instead she’s fighting herself. How can she look at herself ever again? Will she ever have a normal life, friends? Or will she be confined to first her hospital room and then her house, living the life of a freak?

I picked this up on offer at my local Waterstones a while ago after reading the blurb and immediately wanting to read it. Since reading Katie Piper’s books and meeting her last year  disfigurement has been something I’ve been really interested in. The fact that Sheinmel has chosen to write about something that most people have had no experience with or wouldn’t understand just shows her guts as a writer. Very few could pull this off but she has done it with care, attention and incredible character voice. Maisie really comes into her own within a few chapters and we begin to see the complex and difficult situation that no one expects to deal with playing out in front of her.

I will warn you the book is an emotional one, you feel as if you are living alongside Maisie throughout her ordeal. You want to cry when she hates herself or when she feels like giving you. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her. You also learn a lot though, it’s clear that a lot of research went into this book in the way of medical and the emotional process of someone who is learning to cope with a disfigurement. It also makes you think about other types of injury. I know that there were times when I understood and felt so close to Maisie because I’d felt those same feelings, especially after I had my own accident and we didn’t know what was going to happen (there was a point when we weren’t sure if I was going to lose total feeling in my legs). I felt the confusion, the pain, the expectation from those around you and I understood when she wasn’t sure if she could carry on with her physic therapy, the days when she didn’t feel like it was worth it.

My reasoning for giving it 4.5 rather than a straight 5 stars is simply because I found Maisie to be a little too perfect prior to the accident. Apart from her parents fighting she just seemed very much the all American girl. I guess that’s the only thing that niggled at me a little and it’s not to say it was bad it was just something that meant I didn’t connect to her as much at first. Although within a few chapters I was liking her more and more and by the end of the book I just wanted to know her, if that makes sense?

All in all I would highly recommend this book, it’s incredibly well written and tackles something that most people wouldn’t give too much thought to unless it happened to them or someone they loved. It’s clear that Sheinmel has clear talent and is one to watch on the YA scene. I would also love to hear what happened to Maisie after the end of the novel, how she deals with the rest of her life because I really did fall in love with the character in the end.