Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

SUMMARY (From Amazon):

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.

But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you wants to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.


Potent and striking, Not That Kind of Girl pitches multiple view points on the same central issues in a stunning, well weaved, and still lighthearted way. With a strong central character and fantastic, voice driven writing, this book plays heavily on femininity, sexism, and the double standards many girls often deal with.

Natalie is a good student, reliable, dependable, and driven. She also only really has one friend, flying far under the radar at her jock driven school. Natalie prides herself on having a good reputation, but her standpoint on her dating life could be taken as extreme. In many ways, it seems as though Natalie has sworn off boys and won't let herself so much as flirt with a guy, lest it be taken the wrong way or used against her. While she's not completely naive and inexperienced, Natalie likely actually stands where many girls do, making her very relatable and sympathetic. Her reasons for her viewpoints are weaved in, and her personal growth and development is tremendously well done and smooth. Adding further to her character are the several faults that are openly painted across the pages, making her a great 3D character with multiple layers.

Spencer is a freshman starting at Natalie's school, well aware of the body she has, and very willing to use it to her advantage. If she can get guys to do what she wants from it, she's all for it. The polar differences between her and Natalie drive much of this book, but Spencer is "that girl," bringing up the double standard that it's generally alright for boys to flirt and mess around, but girls are instantly deemed a slut for doing the same things. Spencer stands firm on her views and in her actions, and her personal strength is fantastic. She is not a typical fourteen year old in that sense, and was a fantastic addiction to not only Natalie's growth but the story as a whole.

Conner is the quarterback, can get any girl he wants, gets around at times... and wants Natalie. There is a different kind of chemistry between these two than what is normally seen, but it works beautifully for not only the pair but the book as well. The way she interacts with Conner will twist the reader's thoughts and views, and further presses many of the issues and concepts Vivian has so effortlessly weaved throughout the story. Conner's character is softer than the other football jocks, and despite his faults, he is very likable.

The plot itself moves at a steady pace, with a light air surrounding much of it. The majority of the book does take place at school or school related events, creating a larger cast of characters with an array of personalities and views. As Natalie continues to push for stronger women and her brand of femininity, and Spencer continues to negate this and flaunt herself, the opposing battle lines will force the reader to realign their own views. While both sides are able to be understood, this is a gray area situation, and it's the exploration also of that gray area that puts this book over the top.

Vivian's writing is bold and flawless, giving a strong narrative voice to Natalie and building her character, but also pitching in the other views on how a girl should act and how she should be treated. The final outcome of this book has a strong impact and fits perfectly for everything leading up to it, without feeling forced or required.

From the strong characters, stunning and intricate ideals weaved into the plot line, and a great, light high school setting to offset the intensity of some situations, Not That Kind of Girl is a great read. Even in settings outside of high school, this type of view and situation is often encountered, making a quick connection for readers of all ages to Natalie.

Source: Finished hardback received for review from publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Push (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545169151
ISBN-13: 978-0545169158


  1. Not That Kind Of Girl sounds like My Kind of Read ;P (sorry, I felt the impulse to do that...) Excellent review, my friend!

  2. Seems like a terribly good book - I like!

  3. Sounds good! We need more books about the double-standards girls have to put up with.

  4. I already had this book on my wishlist but your review makes me really want to read it now.

  5. What a great review! Natalie sounds very interesting.

  6. I think I'll definitely be reading this one. I've read one other book by Siobhan Vivian and thought it was nearly flawless.