Title: Smart Girls Get What They Want
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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. After all, real life will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. But when an unexpected event proves they’re missing out on the full high-school experience, it’s time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. The trio makes a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge and 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 has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.
These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that might mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . .
When I first saw this book popping up on a couple blogs, I thought it might look cute but didn’t really consider it much before moving on to the next book. Then I began seeing some reviews and they were fairly positive, plus I just liked the title and decided that I shouldn’t worry about whether or not a book simply looks “cute,” so I decided to read it. Just a few weeks after I put it on my to-read shelf, I already had my hands on it from the library, and I decided to read it post-Lady Thief because my emotions were all over the place and I needed something that looked fluffy and happy. Well, I have to say – this book fit my mood perfectly, and I think I’ve found a new go-to book when I need a bit of a pick me up!
One of my favorite things about this book is the trio of best friends at the center of it all. Gigi is the protagonist, but there’s plenty of focus on her best friends Bea and Neerja as well. It was great seeing a POC friend, especially when they would address it rather than just sticking her in as a token minority character (for example, a pretty funny story about Neerja’s neighbor being confused as to why his Indian neighbors weren’t at the “Indians” at the first Thanksgiving meal). And they all seemed pretty fleshed out, which made their kind-of-separate (I say that because Gigi was involved in them both, but they were still secondary) storylines more interesting and fun to read. I also really appreciated the fact that the three girls, though incredibly smart and hard working, also care about their appearance. Now, that’s absolutely nothing wrong with not caring about your appearance all that much, and it would be wrong to suggest that you’re doing something wrong if you don’t like makeup and skirts and such, but too often it seems like smart girls aren’t allowed to enjoy being girly as well. They have to be nerds who throw on whatever is comfy and get confounded by how to apply eyeliner. I mean, I’m really not that girly, but I do think I have gotten girlier the older I get, and it’s frustrating to see that it’s considered a bad thing in YA so often. So, it was great seeing these girls who did care about doing their hair and makeup every day before school, but they also had amazing GPAs and cared about their schoolwork even more.
The romance was also adorable. It was the type where you know the guy likes her, and you just know they’re going to have some dramatic and adorable moment at the end, but Gigi is kind of oblivious because she likes another guy and has drama surrounding that. The other guy was interesting as well – he was often portrayed kind of negatively, but he always seemed like a real person, one who had his flaws and good points. I was pretty happy with the way his relationship with Gigi was handled, as well as the main romance that really didn’t have as much of a focus as I had thought.
Instead, the focus was mostly on Gigi and her friends’ storylines – student council (and romance) for Gigi, the play (and romance) for Neerja, and skiing (and a tiny bit of romance at the end) for Bea. There were other things going on as well, but I still feel like the focus was rightfully on their attempt to make the most of high school in a way that Neerja’s older sister, the valedictorian who barely anyone even knew by the end of the four years, had been unable to.
And the book managed to shock me, although I think this is a shock that no one else really had: the main character had my name! This has literally never happened to me. I’ve read a couple with very, very small side characters with my name, and I loved the Madeline books when I was a kid, which had a dog named Genevieve, but other than that, seeing my name in print is not something that really happens. So, when the principal addresses Gigi as “Genevieve,” I kind of freaked out a bit. I mean, that just doesn’t happen to me, and it’s even better because I really, really like the character of Gigi! I mean, I’m kind of mad that she went with a nickname, and even said that a girl named “Talia” (or “Thalia,” can’t remember for sure) had a sophisticated name, since I like to think that our name is pretty nice, but I really couldn’t get that mad because I was just so excited! But, yeah, I think that’s the type of thing that few other people with notice.
So, this book was really the perfect one for the moment, but I think I would have enjoyed it regardless of whether I was using it to fix my emotions or not. This is the type of book that I can see myself rereading quite a few times, whenever I just want something cute and empowering (yes, smart girls who aren’t socially awkward!).