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Not Like Other Girls

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An immersive look at a troubled teen, seemingly tough but inwardly fragile, an ostracized social pariah, and her turbulent journey to self-awareness and acceptance.

Based in Rochester NY, amongst the incredibly competitive senior-year students of a crowded authoritarian high school, JoLynn Kirby, the first person narrator of this book, is seventeen years old and has come to recognize that she is not like other girls. For one thing, Jo has recently found herself considered an outsider, with plummeting grades and baggy clothes, and her tendency towards wild and reckless behavior she just can’t seem to control. With her successful and former beauty queen mom, a superstar athlete of an older brother, and a kindly dad who just can’t seem to really see her, JoLynn’s desperate downward spiral is captured perfectly here, between the pages, as we, the reader, share in her clumsy bravado in the face of peer-group inflicted bullying, and her resulting dubious decisioning, all of which seem to trip her up even further.

Jo’s world, and in particular, her tangled and tortured interactions with her peers, is written with an authenticity that does justice to both teenage sexes, so much so that this reader could not help but find herself cringing along with Jo in this brutally cruel world of teen power dynamics.

When Jo’s former best friend, Maddie, (now a member of a tight clique of girls whose mean-girl delight in shunning Jo is palpable), disappears suddenly and mysteriously, Jo takes it upon herself to investigate. Aided by an undeniably hot male classmate, Hudson Harper-Moore, (with reasons of his own for needing to get to the bottom of things) Jo’s story now begins to unfold in layers, with dangling loose ends appearing with alacrity, intertwining her traumatized past, her fractured family dynamics, and her disastrous history with her peer group. All of which slowly coalesces into a coherent sequence, illuminating both the mystery and Jo’s oppressive alienation from her world and her self.

An interesting and engrossing read with a flawed and deeply engaging heroine, I enjoyed this book, its plotting and the character-driven labyrinth of slowly revealed twists and turns, all leading to an ending this reader found satisfying and thoughtful.

A great big thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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