It starts before you can even remember: You learn the rules for being a girl. . .
Marin has always been good at navigating these unspoken guidelines. A star student and editor of the school paper, she dreams of getting into Brown University. Marin’s future seems bright―and her young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. Beckett, is always quick to admire her writing and talk books with her.
But when “Bex” takes things too far and comes on to Marin, she’s shocked and horrified. Had she somehow led him on? Was it her fault?
When Marin works up the courage to tell the administration what happened, no one believes her. She’s forced to face Bex in class every day. Except now, he has an ax to grind.
But Marin isn’t about to back down. She uses the school newspaper to fight back and she starts a feminist book club at school. She finds allies in the most unexpected people, like “slutty” Gray Kendall, who she’d always dismissed as just another lacrosse bro. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and write her own rules.
I’ve put off this review for at least two weeks because I don’t know how to put my love for this book into words. I’m going to try but I still feel like I’m not going to do it justice.
This story takes place in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, which I didn’t know, but fucking loved. I grew up in Massachusetts so the second I found this out I was so here for the story. I listened to the audiobook and my only complaint about it was that there weren’t any Boston accents in the adults. I have friends that grew up in Bridgewater and the surrounding areas and they and their parents definitely have Boston accents. But that was a small thing that didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the story.
The story follows Marin who is in her last year of high school and she’s getting ready to go off to college. She’s interviewing with Brown University and is expecting nothing other than being accepted. But then her favorite teacher kisses her and her life starts to change. She starts to really see and want to speak out about how girls are treated at her school. She goes to a private school. So, everyone wears uniforms. But only the girls are ever singled out for uniform violations. This really hit home for me because this was an issue at my school too, but we didn’t wear uniforms. It was only ever girls getting in trouble when the boys were also in violation. This is just one small example, but Marin starts to open her eyes and actually react to these things rather than just accepting them as the status quo. I really loved this change in Marin. She’s standing up against things that are wrong, but things that most people just let happen. Marin takes her thoughts to the school newspaper once she’s gone to the school officials and they (surprise) did nothing. I thought Marin’s writing was wonderful and inspiring and her pieces in the paper were some of my favorite parts of this book. Marin really finds her voice and I really loved her. I also really loved the family dynamics. Her parents were great and so supportive. Marin also has a grandmother that is declining that she visits often. The things Marin’s grandmother imparts on her were also some of my favorite parts.
There is a romance still in this story. I didn’t feel like that romance took away from the story at all. Marin was going through some shit and Gray was there for her in ways that she needed. He has all of these things that people think about him, but he shows Marin who he really is. I really liked their friendship and eventual relationship.
Overall, this book was easily a new all-time favorite. I loved literally everything about it. Though Marin’s best friend was a trash bag most of the book, and I knew exactly why the whole time. But I was very happy when they reconciled and started working together. I also loved that there wasn’t a happy, everything was fixed, ending. The ending was good and solid. But all of the problems weren’t magically fixed. I definitely think this is an important story. It talks about all of these ‘rules’ that girls grow up learning. But it also talks about race and other important topics.
“Remember, girl: It’s the best time in the history of the world to be you. You can do anything! You can do everything! You can be whatever you want to be!
Just as long as you follow the rules.”
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.