Let me just say upfront that although I am, ahem, over twenty-nine (only a little bit), I still, on occasion enjoy reading young adult fiction—especially books about the possibly underdog going through some sort of life change/epiphany or something of the sort that will chair their life forever. And that would be why I jumped at the chance to read The Attitude Girl, by Mila Bernadkin.
The story centers around Victoria, a snarky teenager who is suddenly thrust into the word of reality when her mother loses her job unexpectedly. She goes from being able to basically get whatever she wants to debating whether or not to use a present of $500 from her grandmother on something practical (like taking care of her mother and herself) or go shopping with her friends to get a new outfit for an upcoming party. Seriously.
I think it goes without saying that I was really disappointed in this book. All of the descriptions I could find online about this book describes Victoria as this attitude-driven girl and although she is clearly shown to have an attitude problem throughout the book, I actually didn’t like her from page one.
She’s rude and selfish and just a complete jerk. I don’t understand how someone with that much of an attitude problem could have kept her four best friends so long—or how she could have added two more close friends to her group by the end of the book. Clearly, the author was working overtime on the theme that teenagers have bad attitudes. But seriously. Such a general statement about teenagers is dangerous when THEY ARE YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. Probably insulting them right off the bat is not going to sell books.
Victoria—as well as the other characters—are incredibly one-dimensional. All of the characters make statements that don’t really jive with their age or relationship to the main character. And aside from the occasional thought from Victoria, it’s very hard to get a clear view how this character feels, as everything in this story feels very robotic.
And then there’s this obsession with money that plays out throughout the book. Sure, teens enjoy shopping at the best stores in the mall instead of Walmart. But I would submit that the average teen isn’t going to be obsessed with money, but with the things they can get WITH money. This book does not make that distinction very well.
Let’s talk about the life change/epiphany. There isn’t really one. Sure, Victoria changes her mindset by the end of the book, but it’s not because she suddenly understands the value of a dollar. Oh no, instead, she receives an inheritance—and a car!—that allows her to get a little closer to the lifestyle she had previously enjoyed. How is this teaching her anything? And what exactly was the author attempting to say by weaving the story this way?
What it comes down to is that I feel the author completely failed in knowing her audience and portraying her main character in such a way that the reader can connect with her. It was clear that the book was written by an adult with some serious preconceived notions about teenagers. Teenagers have bad attitudes. Teenagers are just obsessed with money. These are the main themes of the novel. Seems to me like the author isn’t giving teenagers a fair shake.
I was given nothing in the way of compensation for this review.
Originally posted on http://www.parentpalace.com