Thursday, February 6, 2020

Review: What Kind of Girl - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

What Kind of Girl
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published: February 4, 2020 by Sourcebooks Fire

Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.

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.

“Doing something when you’re scared is braver than doing something when you’re not.”

4 1/2 Stars

A young adult aged novel that explores themes of substance abuse, domestic violence, self harm, and sexuality. Written in a clever way, What Kind of Girl follows teen girls as they face societal expectations in the fast-paced, gossipy high school atmosphere. With no names, only self-given titles, we follow The Bulimic, The Popular Girl, The Pothead, The Abused Girlfriend. We see their interactions with family, friends, their abuser. We are given access to their emotions, to their decision making, to the truth. We know what others are whispering and thinking, we know how it's making them feel, but until the very end we don't know everything. There is a grand reveal, one I certainly didn't expect, that really tied this book together and made it jump above four stars for me. You see, we all take what society thinks of us and allow it to impact how we dress, act, feel, and Alyssa B. Sheinmel captures that in this book perfectly.

Written in a format that allows you to really step into the narrators shoes, What Kind of Girl is a heavy novel that forces readers to recognize that the hardships we'd like to pretend do not touch teens still do regardless of our pretending. It's emotional and raw, presenting readers with a relatable story that reminded me what it was like to not have a single version of myself at that age; I had no idea who I wanted to become or what I wanted others to see of me yet. The narrator(s) question their own opinions of themselves, we see them work through the beliefs they think others will have of them, we see them hide the truth from their parents afraid to speak up. The societal expectations the girls in this book feel are accurate, they're felt by women of all ages, and Sheinmel delivers a powerful story about those expectations and the harm they can do to us, both from our own actions and others.

I really enjoyed What Kind of Girl quite a lot, it's written with a punch, leaving an impact on me even as a reader well above the age group for the novel. It's a story about judgement and acceptance, about discovering oneself and the support needed when those expectations all become too much. I'd call it a coming-of-age story that is more up-to-date on the times than the romances we all like to believe in.

About the Author
Alyssa Sheinmel is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels for young adults, including A Danger to Herself and Others and Faceless. She is the co-author of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl and its sequel, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl. Alyssa grew up in Northern California and New York, and currently lives and writes in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @alyssasheinmel and Twitter @AlyssaSheinmel or visit her online at

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