Boy do I love NetGalley.com! I have been fortunate to get some wonderful ARCs from them. Most recently I read Girl Wonder, by Alexa Martin. I confess that I decided to request this title based on the cover alone. After my own brief time as a pink-haired librarian, I kind of have a soft spot for those crazy brave souls who choose bubble-gum colored locks. Lucky for me, judging a book by its cover paid off.
Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
May 3, 2011 Hyperion
Everyone knows it’s hard to be the new girl, but for Charlotte Locke it seems impossible. It’s hard to fit in when you move during your senior year. To make matters worse, because of her math-related learning disability, she is not allowed into the gifted program. Things at home are bleak too. Charlotte stresses about her mom’s health, when her dad isn’t away talking about his best-selling book he nags her about college applications and learning to drive, and as usual, her genius younger brother continues to outshines her in all aspects of life. Things start to look up when she meets Amanda. Amanda is the school’s fearless, beautiful, confident, rich, pink-haired Girl Wonder. Charlotte’s role as Amanda’s new side-kick provides instant popularity and access to Neal, the hottie captain of the debate team. Charlotte joins the debate team to pad her college applications and to get close to Neal. Soon Charlotte and Neal begin a physical, but secret relationship. As Charlotte falls in love she fails to notice the small shifts occurring in her relationships and with her family until it is too late.
The first thing that comes to mind after reading this book is “all that glitters is not gold.” It’s a difficult lesson to learn, but everyone goes through it at some point. Charlotte is a perfectly flawed main character and the author beautifully captures the recklessness, exuberance, and insecurities that characterize the typical high school experience. Despite relying on a number of clichés, Girl Wonder is an honest and touching look at the pressures that teens feel as they try to find their place among their peers, within their families, and in the world at large. Charlotte makes mistakes along the way, but her journey has a satisfying end that leaves her a stronger, more confident person. This ending is not marred by its predictability because readers will be cheering for Charlotte all the way. There are plenty of lesson to learned in this debut novel, but none come off as preachy. This book will appeal to more mature fans of realistic fiction, chick lit, and stories with strong female characters. This book does contain mature content and may not be appropriate for younger readers.
Pair this book with Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales. Fans of Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen will also appreciate this coming of age story.