Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

* * * 1/2

Slut or saint? Good friend or bad friend? In control or completely out of it?

Life is about choices, and Natalie Sterling prides herself on making the right ones. She’s avoided the jerky guys populating her prep school, always topped honor roll, and is poised to be the first female student council president in years.

If only other girls were as sensible and strong. Like the pack of freshmen yearning to be football players’ playthings. Or her best friend, whose crappy judgment nearly ruined her life.

But being sensible and strong isn’t easy. Not when a prank nearly gets her expelled. Not when her advice hurts more than it helps. Not when a boy she once dismissed becomes the boy she can’t stop thinking about.

The line between good and bad has gone fuzzy, and crossing it could end in disaster . . . or become the best choice she’ll ever make.

Natalie Sterling is a perfect student. She has perfect grades. She studies religiously for her upcoming SAT’s. She is extremely focused and knows where she is going after high school. She is also a feminist with very clear views on how women should be treated and viewed. Sounds like a pretty awesome person right?

The only problem is that Natalie sees everything in black and white. Her views border and sometimes downright cross the line of extreme. You don’t notice this in the beginning. At first she seems like the super nice girl that has stood beside her best friend when said friend was going through one of the worst high school experiences ever. She is portrayed as a great leader. Someone that always has an encouraging word for the other girls. But slowly you realize that Natalie is highly judgmental and prejudiced. On more than one occasion she shows how superior she thinks she is to her classmates. Including her best friend.

Early into her senior year, when she is expecting perfection from herself and everyone around her, Natalie’s perfect life begins to unravel. A new freshman, a girl she once babysat, sets off on a course that both enrages and challenges Natalie’s way of thinking. Her best friend has decided to become less dependent and has started branching out. On top of that she has a new found attraction with one of the high school boy she so desperately mistrusts. A boy that does not fit into her future plans at all.

I really wanted to like Natalie but found that I couldn’t. Her overly superior attitude drove me nuts. And really that was the point, I think. Her attitude is repelling and that is the obstacle she needs to overcome without necessarily losing herself. As Bibliojunkie Bel reminded me today, it took “balls” on Siobhan Vivian’s part to write this character. Regardless of how I feel about Natalie Sterling, I can’t dispute that this book is excellent. The writing was wonderful. The author kept me interested. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen from one page to the next. Also, many of the secondary characters, particularly Autumn, Spencer and Connor, were quite likable. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to them. And I admit a part of me was hoping Natalie would change. And maybe she did….but I can’t get all spoilery now, can I? You will have to read and find out for yourself.

And here is the really tough part. Rating this book. As I said, it did keep my interest. I enjoyed the overall story. Would I recommend it? Yes, but with the caveat that the main character is extremely unlikeable. So I decided to put it in between Enjoy and Awesome which in the Bibliojunkie world is 3 ½ stars.

~ Nat

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