Girls Like Me by Lola St.Vil
Reading Challenge: A book of poetry
This reading challenge item was a little bit of a cop-out. I don’t dislike poetry, per se, but I like to read things with plots. This is a book composed of poetry, and poetic text messages, but it’s essentially a teen novel in poetry. So sue me, this appealed more than a collection of Yeats, and I’ve suffered enough recently.
This was a sweet little book, and I liked it a lot. There were no huge surprises, nothing wildly original in terms of characters or plot – in fact, I think one of the major plot contrivances is taken right out of a Hillary Duff movie – but it was sweet. I teared up in some places, but it was a rough day at work so I probably would have teared up reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” I appreciated, you have no idea how much, that our heroine never lost weight. One of my long list of literary pet peeves is the heroine who loses weight as she gains confidence, gets her life in order, and gets a guy, as if those things are all impossible over a size 12. I think the worst is when this particular trope is found in teen fiction, when girls are already getting bombarded with horrible body image messages. But I liked that although Shay’s cruel schoolmates had a lot to say about her weight, the book wasn’t fully focused on it, either. She had other things going on, as people of any size tend to do.
I liked her friends, too, and her text messages with her love interest were cute. I do have to question the way the 15 year-olds talked about sex. Not in a pearl-clutching “oh no the teens are thinking about the sex” kind of way, but more the “wow, are kids these days really that confident? Discussing sex frankly with the person they’re attracted to without any apparent hesitation?” I mean, that shit can be challenging as an adult. I’m pretty sure if a boy had tried to talk sex to me when I was fifteen (spoiler alert to my memoirs: this did not in fact happen) my response would have been to get bright red, stutter out a few monosyllables, and run away.
Although the love story was adorable, the strongest parts of the book were the ones that related to Shay’s grief. Both of her parents have left: her mother by choice, her father not. The poems on that topic were the strongest, and definitely the parts where I got a little teary.
Recommended pairing: How about a Crabbie’s ginger beer for this one? Like a kid’s drink, but not.