“”You want to bet?” I didn’t plan to say that, it was a flash of pure inspiration. Not as brilliant as inventing the wheel, maybe, but as brilliant as putting the wheel on a wagon. Just like that: “You want to bet?””
-Dyan Sheldon, More than One Way to be a Girl
Hey guys! I was really excited when the lovely people at Walker sent me a copy of this YA standalone; More than One Way to be a Girl by Dyan Sheldon. I thought that the title alone was great and very promising, and it wasn’t long before I dug into the book itself!
Here’s the blurb on the back of my copy:
“Face it, ZiZi. You’d be lost without your make-up and your girly clothes.”
“And you think ‘feminine’ is a dirty word. You’re the one who’s never going to change, Loretta.”
“You want to bet?”
When Loretta and her best friend ZiZi make a life-changing bet, one thing’s for sure: the summer is about to be turned upside down.
Told in short, snappy chapters that alternate between the two girls, this book looks at two very different teenage girls, Loretta and ZiZi, and explores their identities, the friendship between them, and what it means to be a girl.
Loretta is a staunch feminist and proud of it. She dresses in black, is a handy mechanic and dislikes the way ZiZi dumbs herself down for boys, an argument over which was how their friendship began. ZiZi on the other hand adores boys, clothes (many of hers are pink) and make-up. They’re great friends, but they’re very different from each other, which sometimes leads to them clashing.
Until they make a bet for the summer.
This book is centered around the summer that Loretta and ZiZi change places and step into each other’s shoes. It’s such a simple idea, but I really enjoyed reading about how it all unfolded! There are some predictable bits, but as this book is aimed at younger teens, I’d say that that wouldn’t be an issue for them, and there is plenty of hilarity as they both get into different scrapes and small disasters along the course of their social experiment.
Of course, they both end up learning something from their summer of switching places, and what’s nice is that there are different themes brought into the summer that is also addressed; themes like first crushes, relationships with family, expectations and identity, along with the friendship between Loretta and ZiZi. All of it is done smoothly and interestingly, with the plot moving along at a good pace and hooking you in from the start. At 364 pages (UK paperback), and short chapters, it structurally adds to that fast pace, and I found myself flying through it quite quickly!
Overall, this was a really cute read for me, but I think it could mean so much more to young teens, especially those feeling peer pressure to reshape their identities. More than One Way to be a Girl is a beautiful read about ultimately being true to yourself and showing that every girl deserves the same respect, whatever she dresses or acts like. I’m giving this one 4/5 stars!
Has anyone else read this book? What did you think of it? Which books about identity have you read?