✶ Summary ✶
What Kind of Girl starts with a girl going to her principal to tell her that her boyfriend has been hitting her. She decided to come clean at this moment because the last hit left a mark. The girl’s boyfriend is the school’s star sports player, the guy everyone loves. So most people, even the principal, question whether he would hurt his girlfriend. The book happens over the course of a week and half the school is on her side and the other half don’t believe her. Meanwhile, the boyfriend is still attending classes until a board meeting the following week to decide how to handle it. There is no rule about how to handle it, especially since it didn’t happen on school grounds. At the end of the first section, we learn that the four points of view (titled the girlfriend, the popular girl, the bulimic, and the burnout) are all one girl, Maya. The next section starts the same week again but from four other points of view (the anxious girl, the cool girl, the activist, and the best friend). They’re all revealed to be one girl, Juniper, best friend to Maya. Juniper starts organizing a rally before the track meet that weekend to protest Mike (the abusive boyfriend) still being allowed to be at school. Mike tries to confront Maya in the parking lot and school stoner, Hiram, protects her and punches Mike. Hiram takes Maya and Juniper away from the school where they go to the beach. Maya and Juniper learn what each has been keeping from the other. Maya has not only been hiding her boyfriend’s abuse, but she also makes herself throw up. Juniper has been diagnosed with anxiety and OCD after cutting herself so badly she had to go to the ER. They realize they haven’t been the best of friends to each other and want to work on it. They decide to go to the big party the next night to show that Maya isn’t going to be run out of school by how people think of her. At the party, they learn that the protest has taken a life of its own, and Mike has spread that Maya has been cheating on him with Hiram, and Hiram was the one that hit her, not Mike. Maya has been seeing Hiram for a couple months, hanging out in his car during school hours and kissing some. But Mike was the one that hit her. She admits this to Juniper, and Juniper says some harsh things to her and leaves her there. Juniper is currently on some pills that change how she thinks and behaves, not prescribed but drugs she got from Hiram. Mike takes Maya into a room and tries to convince her to go along with his story, telling her they will be fine after she tells everyone it was Hiram. At the rally the next day, Maya stands up in front of everyone and admits it was Mike. She and Juniper make up. There is resolution at the end of Maya coming clean to her dad about what she’s been going through and thinking about moving across the country to live with him instead, to get a fresh start. Juniper also comes clean with her dad about how much pressure he puts on her to be an activist. Her parents agree to family therapy for her.
✶ Non-toxicity ✶
This book covers so many important topics. It perfectly depicts an abusive relationship. Throughout the whole book, Maya is going back and forth in her head about what she should do and how she should feel. She loves Mike, but she shouldn’t love him. She feels bad that he may lose his scholarship, but then she thinks he hit her so she shouldn’t care about that. It shows that being a victim causes a lot of mental turmoil. People who haven’t been there ask “why did she let it happen so long”, and this book shows her thought process along the way. Excusing it because he was under a lot of stress, thinking him roughly grabbing her was passionate and not abusive, thinking he’s so good to her the rest of the time so he must love her, and the abuse can be overlooked. In the end, she realizes how he treated her was wrong and nothing can justify it. This book also covers bulimia, though it is more brief. Maya feels that she has too much excess weight, and she must throw up every day to make it better. She expresses how she feels that she can’t classify herself as bulimic, she feels it’s not to that point. But by the end of the book, she tells her dad so it shows she realizes it is a problem, and she will most likely get help for it. Another topic this book covers is self-harm. Juniper was cutting herself for months until one night she cut too deep and drove herself to the hospital for stitches. After that, her parents made her see a therapist. That’s when she was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD. She made a deal with her parents that if she could go three months without cutting then they wouldn’t put her on medication. She’s in that three months during this book. It shows her thoughts about her urges and how desperately she feels the need. At one point, she breaks a compact mirror to use the glass but decides against it. In the end, she comes clean to her parents about the pressure she feels from them, which they agree to work on. This book shows that every person has different sides of themselves, different faces they show depending on the situation. How “the cool girl” is actually a girl filled with anxiety and other urges (OCD, cutting). It captures how much overthinking girls go through on how to present themselves, on how others will see them. This book covers so many things that teens go through that no one wants to talk about. It is so important that teens learn about this and know the warning signs.
✶ Quotes ✶