Book Review: What Kind of Girl - Alyssa Sheinmel

March 15, 2020

"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."
When I saw this book listed on Netgalley, I instantly knew it was one I wanted to pick up. I love books which tackle deeper and more complex topics but as part of a story which is simultaneously compelling to read. I also love books based around an unreliable narrator - so let's just say my expectations were high. 

Unfortunately, whilst this book was a good enough read, my expectations were not met. However, I think this is less to do with the book itself, than to do with the marketing of it. In my opinion, the description above does not at all correlate to the story that we get within.

Instead, Sheinmel tells a story of abuse from multiple perspectives which often goes off into tangents about side character's storylines rather than focusing on what happened to the main character. These stories were good enough in their own right, and I enjoyed the character development we go to see throughout, as well as how Sheinmel captured all of the different personalities you get in one school year. However, I thought this book was going to be more of a mystery, with tension around the truth of what happened to Mike Parker's girlfriend. But it just lacked any element of tension at all, and as such lacked momentum at points.

I did enjoy reading this one, and I do think the characters are well written. Unfortunately though, it doesn't feel like a single book; it feels like multiple stories the author has come up with separately have been forced together. I feel like she was trying to write a 'Thirteen Reasons Why' style story of abuse, but the links weren't quite there. It just didn't quite work for me. 

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