So I didn't think I was going to have a Friday Reads today because I haven't had much reading time this week. However, this book arrived on my doorstep yesterday at 3pm and by 10pm last night, I'd finished it. It's been a LONG time since I've finished a book in one evening. (It's 350 pages so not exactly short.) So yay, a Friday Read!
First, let's talk briefly about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope in case you haven't heard of it. It was a term coined by movie critic Nathan Rabin (which he now regrets inventing) that describes a female character in movies that is "a fantasy figure who 'exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.'" (see the whole article here.)
Basically this is the flighty, zany, kind of outrageous girl who convinces the broody hero to embrace life or whatever. The problem is that the character exists solely for the purpose of helping the male protagonist and doesn't have any goals of her own. So it's not a positive term. What comes to mind for me is Kate Hudson's character in Almost Famous.
There's a list here if you want to see more movie examples. But this is the back story that brings us today's Friday Read: I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil. I picked this up partly for the title, but also because I enjoyed TEN by this author, which was a horror based on And Then There Were None. McNeil writes the 80s-90s style teen horror that I adored growing up (think Christopher Pike, Lois Duncan) so this is a little bit of a departure from her normal genre, but I still enjoyed it a lot.
Here's the back cover summary:
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.
So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.
Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn't all it's cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she's messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?
So this book has a fun premise and absolutely reads like a movie. I felt like I'd watched a teen comedy when I was done (which isn't a bad thing.) Very light and funny. Nothing gets too dark. If you're thinking about it for your pre-teen or teen kids, there's no sex in it, just a few f-bombs. If you're thinking about it for yourself, it's an enjoyable ride and will make you want to go do your own research on the manic pixie dream girl trope. Also, it has a good female empowerment message, which is always welcome. :)
So, what's your Friday Read?