Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

Pages: 304
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 3, 2011
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket. Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen. But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know. Talented newcomer Alexa Martin delivers a poignant story of first love, jealousy and friendship, where the ups and downs of senior year have never been so complicated. What else can Charlotte do but throw her hands up and ride?"

Charlotte Locke transferred to a new high school for her senior year and often feels judged for her learning disability in math.  In her family, she is surrounded by high achievers and Charlotte is just trying to find her own way.  She meets Amanda, a rich non-conformist, who takes Charlotte under her wing.  She also meets Amanda's friend, Neal, who happens to be Charlotte's dream guy.  They all join the debate team, hangout, and attend crazy parties, but Charlotte finds that she is losing herself as she is trying to be someone she is not just to fit in.  Girl Wonder by debut author Alexa Martin is a cautionary tale about trying to fit in, the perils of peer pressure, and essentially losing yourself in the process.

You can't help but feel sympathy for Charlotte who is just trying to have a good senior year at a new school.  She falls into the trap of trying to impress Amanda and Neal, which ultimately sends her on a downward spiral and she ends up doing many things she will regret thanks to peer-pressure.  What Charlotte needs is the guidance of a good friend or mentor, but her dad, a successful novelist, doesn't have time for her and only cares about her SAT scores.  Her mom, a literature professor, doesn't really pay much attention to her either, because she is more focused on her failing relationship with her husband.  Her brother, who is younger and has a good heart, tries to be her friend, but to make matters worse, he is pretty much a genius and Charlotte finds herself in his shadow quite often.  I just wish she found a good friend towards the beginning of the Girl Wonder, because that is what she really needed.

Amanda is the girl in high school I'm sure we all knew.  She is too cool for school and tries so hard to stand out.   She's manipulative and a horrible friend, but Charlotte, being insecure and weak, tries very hard to be close to her.  On the other hand, Neal, I just didn't get. I don't see why Charlotte put up with  him. He's pretentious, haughty, and deceptive.  I desperately wanted Charlotte to see his true colors, but I know in high school that is harder than it seems.

Girl Wonder is filled with peer-pressure, dangerous drugs, underage drinking, and sex.  I could never put this book in my classroom since I teach middle school, but on the other hand, I can see many high school students relating to Charlotte's story.  I did find most of Girl Wonder to be depressing, but by the end readers will be pleased as Charlotte really grows and finds her way after all.  Ultimately, Martin shows us what many high school students have to deal with on a daily basis and for me, it was eye opening.

*Thank you to Hyperion and DPW Publicity for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. This one sounds like an interesting read. I'll have to keep my eyes open for this one.

  2. I can tell this one would frustrate me and I would be shaking the book hoping I could get through to Charlotte and make her see how Neal and Amanda really are! Like you said though, it's hard in high school not to get swept up in everything and stand your ground. Awesome review Christina!

  3. I'm not sure if I should read this book, I really don't like depressing stories. ;)

  4. Mrs Q- It definitely was interesting and unlike many of the YA contemporary fictions that I've read lately. Thanks for visiting.

    Jenny- It did frustrate me a bit to see Charlotte make all those mistakes. Thanks for visiting!

    Nina- It was a bit depressing. :( Thanks for stopping by!

  5. This sounds like a realistic read. I student once wisely pointed out that in high school, you have to make the best with what you have (in regards to friends). You pick out of what is available; you don't necessarily get to pick what is ideal for you. I thought that was very interesting. I like when I see that in YA books. It seems so real to me.


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