Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer [website | twitter]
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format read: ARC won from Goodreads giveaway.
Keywords: high school, first dating relationships, overcoming fears
Summary: Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are three brilliantly smart girls destined for Ivy league colleges and great futures. However, an unexpected finding makes them realize that maybe being smart isn’t everything. They attempt to be smart girls and become actively involved in their school. Gigi has to face her fear of public speaking, Bea joins the ski team (despite her parents wishes), and Neerja tries out for Romeo and Juliet.
Gigi, Neerja, and Bea reminded me a lot of the kind of girl I was in high school. I grew up in a tiny, tiny town and knew that the only way to leave was to make good grades so I could go to college and move on. My friends were smart, semi-dorky girls, too. (Looking back, I don’t think we thought we were dorky, but we kind of were. HA!) I related to Gigi’s feelings of overwhelming, long nights of homework. When she and Mike, a goofy athlete, are assumed to have cheated on a hard test, this leads Gigi to run for student representative to the school board. She’s forced to spend extra time with Mike working on a project and she has to go up against the new cute boy, Will, during the student rep elections.
There was a LOT that I really, really loved about this book. However, I almost gave up on it. The parts that I loved came after I hit the 130-ish page mark. In the beginning, there are a ton of secondary stories converging and sometimes the information felt a little unnecessary. I wished that some of this would have been edited out because I absolutely could not put down the book once I got to the heart of the story. Smart Girls Get What They Want made me realize that there are two types of young adult books – those that are absolutely written for teens and those that are written about teenagers but are for a slightly more mature audience. Smart Girls was the former – the language was for a younger audience (i.e. uses of IMHO or other acronyms that Gigi thought) and more details that I do feel younger teenage girls would find interesting. To me, these details seemed a little superfluous, especially in the first third of the book.
Smart Girls is entirely founded on conflict. Gigi is infatuated with manipulative, deceptive Will, but standing protectively to the side is Mike. She’s faced with difficult choices when it comes to choosing boys or her friends. She has to overcome her fear of public speaking to stand up for what she believes in. The biggest conflict is her internal struggle between trying to be the smart, bright girl with a future and living her life. Can she do both, or is it one or the other?
While I did have my issues with the beginning of the book, I am definitely glad I pushed through and continued to read Smart Girls Get What They Want. The overall lessons Gigi learned were great for teenage girls – the takeaway is definitely worth it.