ARC Review: What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

Title: What Kind of Girl
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health
Source: Sourcebooks via NetGalley
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: February 1st 2020

Summary: 
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.

*Trigger Warning: depictions of dating abuse, bulimia, self harm & drug use*

It has been a few days since I have read What Kind of Girl and I am still speechless. What ever I write here will not do this book one ounce of the justice and praise it deserves in the slightest. I loved this book with all my heart, I loved the subjects is brought up, the way the author addressed them and the message that there is light at the end of the tunnel. What Kind of Girl is one of those books that impacts you and leaves you thinking about this issue and these characters even after you read the last page. 

The book is told in two POVs. Mia whose boyfriend has been abusing her for months and suffers from bulimia and June, Mia's best friend, who suffers from severe anxiety and self harms. Both girls stories are complex and heart wrenching. Having gone through some of these issues myself, it was easy to relate to both of these girls. To feel there anger, pain, the hopelessness in the situations they are in. 

Mia with a bruise on her face, walks into her principals office and accuses her boyfriend, Mike Parker of hitting her. But Mike is the most popular guy in school and him and Mia are the "it" couple. Sides are taken and not everyone believes Mia. Throughout the novel we watch Mia struggle with the acceptance of Mike's actions, whether she still loves him or not and was it her actions that caused Mike's actions. Since dating Mike, Mia has become extremely unhappy with her body and began to force herself to throw up and skip meals. It isn't until later on in the novel does she acknowledge it as as an eating disorder. 

June, is Mia's best friend. After everything with Mia and Mike she decides to stage a protest for Mike's expulsion, since it seems he is only going to get away with this with a slap on the wrists. June's character is the one I related to the most. She suffers from bad anxiety and self harm tendencies. The way Sheinmel explains and treads with the discussion of June's anxiety, how she feels, the physical symptoms, the mental, the obsessive thoughts, the intrusive thoughts. I've never seen anxiety represented almost exactly as I have experienced before. (I've never understood when readers explain how they feel seen within a novel, but with What Kind of Girl I feel seen and heard and that I am not a lone.)

What Kind of Girl brings up important discussions that are needed to be have in the world of young adult novels. People often relate domestic abuse to older people. But what about younger people? It isn't just visible bruises and injuries. It's the little things as well. We see how Mike pinches Mia, grabs her a little to tight, how he is manipulative. For me, I feel like this book is going to be an eye opener for many readers. 

Overall I really enjoyed What Kind of Girl and I hope others who read it do as well. Sheinmel's writing style and language is both beautiful and stunning and is going to leave her readers wanting more. The ending was left a little open ended, but I didn't mind it as much. The self acceptance and the recovery that both girls are working towards was enough for me. 

What Kind of Girl is not to be missed in 2020 and I hope everyone takes away the message that Sheinmel's giving her readers. 



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