Friday, February 1, 2013

GIRL V. BOY


Review of GIRL V. BOY by YVONNE COLLINS and SANDY RIDEOUT

I stand by my claim in my LOVE INC review that these authors have an incredible handle on voice. Luisa Perez remained a likable and relatable protagonist, even when I disagreed with her or could see layers to her relationships that she overlooks. In GIRL V. BOY, Luisa's principal pits the girls against the boys for a high school fundraiser, hoping the tactic will increase motivation. Luisa becomes an anonymous columnist representing the girl's side while a boy will anonymously write a column for the boy's side. It doesn't take long (one column) before they're at each others’ throats and entrenched in stereotypical views about why their gender's better and the other's crazy. You need to set aside skepticism about some of what goes on at this high school, especially when the implausible aspects are actually encouraged by the adults, but once you do the book becomes an amusing and thought-provoking read.

Needless to say, sexism and feminism issues step to the forefront as both dislikable and likable characters do and say ignorant things, so caught up in the competitive, us vs. them, atmosphere. While mostly an entertaining read falling into the chick lit category, there's a slight satiric taste. For all that I liked her, Luisa certainly isn't a perfect, role model protagonist. She becomes so fixated on how sexist she finds her rival columnist, Scoop, that she, too, makes some very broad statements about all males. Her friends point out that Scoop might not even be as sexist as he seems; rather, he could be utilizing a persona to bait her into rash, controversial responses.

Meanwhile, Luisa wants a boyfriend. Obsession with boys and boyfriends has never been a trait I love in characters, but in this case it at least becomes comical. Luisa is so fixated on not dating the wrong guy that she doesn't make much effort to look for a good guy. In particular, she's terrified she might accidentally date her rival Scoop without knowing. That's what makes her boyfriend search so amusing. The story almost turns into a mystery as we catch clues here and there for certain guys being or not being Scoop. The kicker is that Luisa's efforts to avoid Scoop might lead her straight to him.

Every time you think you've figured out a character, the authors throw you a curve - one of my favorite signatures about their work. The LOVE INC trilogy also has a romance-fixated premise, but the real strength of that story lies in the friendships. In this case, family might have stolen the show for me. Luisa's prickly relationship with her sister Grace hums with familiar sibling rivalry, but keen readers will guess early on why Grace really crashes Luisa's romantic moments and chases away potential boyfriends.

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