Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publication Date: June 26, 2012 (North America – HarperTeen)
Source: Publisher review copy
Summary: Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren’t the most popular girls in school, they aren’t too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they’re missing out on the full high school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge—and they will totally rock it.
Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she’ll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but always stayed behind the scenes—until now.
These friends are determined to show that smart girls get what they want—but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for…
☆: 3.5/5 stars -finally, something for the smart girls!
Review: While this one was cute (it even gives a shout out to “Anna and the French Kiss”!), and will definitely be a great summer beach read, I still had a few issues with “Smart Girls Get What They Want”. But regardless of my pickiness, this is a love song written for all of the smart girls out there in high school kicked to the curb in terms of social status and asks, “why can’t we, the smart girls, be on top of the social pyramid if we’re already on top of the school’s grading slope?”. A great question indeed, if there ever was one, and one that I constantly asked myself when I was in high school. In “Smart Girls”, we get our answer, and really? It’s easier than we think.
I guess the only problem I had was the pacing (and the hook) in terms of the first…fourth of the book (roughly). It was incredibly slow, almost ridiculously so, up until the hook finally landed – in the form of both jock Mike and heroine Gigi are both accused of cheating on their chem midterm. From there, though, things really took off, and I enjoyed the ride. But it shouldn’t take nearly a fourth of the book for the hook to sink in. Even when it took off, I think the most charged parts of the book weren’t until the last fourth or so – that REALLY got my attention, and I liked that part the best.
The characters were cute, and believable, and mostly felt real/3D, including the foils and villains. Because each of the girls got their own character arc (for the most part), it was a pleasure to watch them change throughout the book and see the difference between who and where they were at the beginning versus the end. The world also felt real/believable and especially resonated with me, as I was stuck in the AP bubble like Gigi and her friends, too. Though we weren’t quite outcasts, we just kind of…stayed in our own bubble (and had some smart jocks with us, too). It felt just a little tighter and more polished than the characters, though not by much. I think one more draft could have tightened up everything – the dragging parts, the world, and the characters just a little bit more and it would have been one of those knock-it-out-of-the-park awesome YA contemporaries I’ve come to love like “Anna and the French Kiss”.
Really, though, this is a great book that gives the message of “carpe diem” to all of the geeky, shy girls everywhere that feel lonely, isolated or underappreciated in high school. I was cheering for Gigi and her friends the whole time, even in the parts that weren’t so exciting or the parts that dragged a bit. Perhaps it’s because I too have had that same longing and the kind of ridiculous status question of “wait, we’re on top of the school academically, why not socially, too?”, but this one was a very fun detour from some of the darker fantasy I’ve been exploring as of late.
I think this one’s going to be a great summer read. “Smart Girls Get What They Want” will be out from HarperTeen on June 26th in North America, so be sure to check it out then!