Thursday, December 29, 2016

StVil, Lola. Girls Like Me.

StVil, Lola.  Girls Like Me.  Houghton Mifflin  2016  310p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-544-70674-3          hs  Realistic fiction  VG-BN           

Girls Like Me is the story of Shay Summers, an imperfect teenager trying to live in a world that is not forgiving of girls like her, or girls that look like her.  That world is set up more for girls like Kelly, who is forever on Shay’s back. Or Blake, the god of Shay’s high school.  Or her stepmother, who, in the wake of Shay’s father’s death, is forever trying to fix Shay, one healthy snack at a time.  One day, in a chat room, Shay makes a connection that sets her heart and hopes flying.  Maybe she is not alone.  Maybe there is someone out there who understands, and maybe he is closer than she thinks. 

Girls Like Me is a novel written, charmingly, in verse.  The reader falls in love easily with Shay-- a girl who just doesn’t quite fit in -- and her misfit group of friends: a terminally ill girl named Boots, and Dash, her confident gay friend who struggles with acceptance in his own family.  We sit in class with Shay and witness her being bullied by Kelly, and we cringe as she struggles to find a healing, healthy relationship with her stepmother.  We ache as she remembers her dad and wishes he could help her.  When she meets Godot, online, she seems to have found a kindred spirit. His voice, too, is in verse, and he is witty and kind.  Together they are funny and cute -- an oasis from Shay’s day-to-day life.  But then he wants their relationship to be real, and in the real world.  This complicates matters for Shay.  What if he rejects her, like much of the world seems to do? 
This story is a lovely read.  It is heartbreaking at points, honest, and ultimately moving.  As the author says on the book jacket, it is a perfect book for those who “laugh too loud / think too much / feel too much.”  Those who enjoyed Perks of Being a Wallflower and Eleanor & Park will enjoy this novel as well.  This story would be an excellent addition to any Young Adult collection.

Summary: Girls Like Me is a story written in verse about an imperfect teenager trying to live in a world that is not forgiving of girls like her, or girls that look like her.  She is suffering after the death of her father and trying to get along with her step mother and the kids at school.  Then one day, in a chat room, she makes a connection in a chat room that sets her heart and hopes flying. 

Self-esteem-Fiction, Coming-of-Age Novels                                                              --Michele Nass

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