Advance Reader Copy, 301 pages
September 2nd 2014
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Girl Defective is the coming of age story of fifteen year old Skylark written by Australian author, Simmone Howell. What I found interesting concerning this book was how, despite being a contemporary novel, there was a bit of a mystery element to it enough to provide this book with a sort of grown up Harriet the Spy feel.
Skylark Martin is a unique character in that despite being exposed to mental illness, addiction, drugs and sex in her life, she manages to still remain fairly innocent throughout the novel. I was fond of how despite struggling to figure out whom she was throughout the book; she almost always puts her family first. However for the majority of the book it felt like Gully, Skylark’s younger brother was the star of the book. He was quirky and awkward, but also endearing and lovable. And he stole just about every scene he was in; the fact that Gully’s “detective” notes were the main source of entertainment in this book, this definitely tells you how significant he is in the book. Still, it is Skylark’s story that’s being told, and it was lovely to watch her attempt to figure out who she by opening up a bit to strangers, in addition to her interactions with her older friend, Nancy. Through it all, readers come to understand just how lonely and confused Skylark is, especially since she is without a mother figure to provide her with guidance and advice.
Therefore while this book was cool for the reason that the story felt different, and that there was a cast of weird and interesting side characters it didn’t wow me. In particular, the romance between Skylark and her love interest, Luke lacked substance and chemistry. This made it fall flat since I wasn’t buying their attraction to each other.
Girl Defective is however a decent story, with a unique setting (a records store) that was extremely reminiscent of those movies from the 1980s, or the teen dramas from the 1990s where there was a focus on the serious nature of growing up as a teenager with a bit of humour to put together a story somewhat uplifting by the conclusion. And though the plot is somewhat slow, it is a quick read for readers due to its short chapters.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.