Publisher: Hyperion Books
Release date: May 3, 2011
Read it in: 1.5 days
This really was a great book, and I loved it from the first few pages. Girl Wonder was a realistic coming-of-age story, both charming and flawed at the same time. Charlotte was an amazing main character and it was very easy to relate to her, while also seeing both the good and bad pieces of yourself in her personality. She was slightly sarcastic, cynical, and insecure. But she was also endearing, and her narration of the story made you want to keep reading. Honestly, I couldn't put this book down.
The author, Alexa Martin, did an awesome job of describing the world inside a public high school, and how hellish it can be for a new student. The stereotypes weren't blatantly forced down your throat like they are in some other YA books, but you can still see the strict social structure of the school and all the cliques that exist there. All Charlotte wants is to fit in-- unfortunately, she's never been to a public school before and she suffers from a learning disability that makes her have difficulties with reading numbers.
The dynamics of Charlotte's family were just as intriguing to read about as her school life- her dad has just become a successful published author, but he's having an affair on the side with his young publicist. Charlotte can see the strain wearing off on her mother, while her over-achieving brother James Henry, destined for an Ivy League School, eclipses her in almost everything. Charlotte has to not only make her own way in school-- she also has to learn how to be her own person and be happy despite all the high standards her family has forced on her.
Then there was Amanda-- AKA "Girl Wonder." She's the Popular Girl, but she was actually a lot different than your typical Queen Bee. She has neon-pink hair, for starters, and she's the star of the debate team. She has everything and yet she cares about nothing. It was very hard to sympathize with her, and I was so glad that Charlotte was able to make peace with herself in the end and not depend on Amanda anymore.
Neal was the biggest jerk-- but then, I guess we have all had experience with them. (If not, then we're lucky!) Basically, Charlotte is highly vulnerable and she falls for the wrong guy. She gives up nearly everything to be with him and ends up... well, I won't give it away! Fortunately, Charlotte is able to come to terms with what happens to her and find a sweet guy who is worth her time and appreciates her for who she is!
Girl Wonder was a touching book that made me laugh and cry at different points. I thought the narrative told through Charlotte's perspective was both original and familiar at the same time. This was a great coming-of-age story that was a lot of fun to read, but made me happy that I'm no longer in that awkward teenage-high-school phase!