Review: What’s a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne

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HOW TO START A FEMINIST REVOLUTION:

  1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender
  2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)
  3. Always try to keep it funny
  4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…

Lottie’s determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas…

I adored the first book in this trilogy, Am I Normal Yet? – in fact, I would probably go as far as to say that it was one of my favourite books of last year. I didn’t love its sequel, How Hard Can Love Be?, as much, but to be honest it would have been very difficult to top Am I Normal Yet?, and I did still enjoy it; I laughed almost the entire time I was reading it, and it showed a very important aspect of feminism, which is that you can have a relationship and still be a committed feminist. Anyway, because I love feminism and the other books in this series, I knew that I had to read the last book in the series when it came out at the beginning of this month.

The series focused on a trio of friends, and this book was about Lottie, the brainy and academic one who was the most vocal feminist of them all. After an incident of sexual harassment, Lottie’s eyes were opened to all the sexism around her that she had never noticed before. Her response to this was to embark on an epic project: blasting a massive clown horn to whenever she spotted something sexist around her, and enrolling an aspiring filmmaker to follow her with a camera to capture the process.

Her and her friends created a set of rules (displayed in the description of the book above) and I thought this was really good, as it showed how well thought out the project was, and took the issues they were facing seriously. However, I also thought that it was an excellent idea to try to keep things funny. One of the things I was a little worried about before I started reading the book was that the project would seem angry or too serious. Like I said, I love feminism, and this drew me to the book, but I also wanted it to be fun! The addition of the clown horn added a lot of laughs to the book, some conflict, and most importantly made the project more fun (Holly Bourne also filmed a very entertaining video with booktuber SableCaught, where they honked a clown horn every time they spotted something sexist in a newspaper/magazine, and I would recommend watching it as it was very entertaining – link here).

Not only did Holly Bourne cover the very, very important topic of feminism in her novel, but she also talked about university and academic pressure. I haven’t really seen this covered much in YA yet (the only thing that springs to mind is Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, which I shall be posting a review of soon!), and I thought the position that Lottie stuck to was admirable: she only wanted to go to a university that wanted her for who she was, and she wasn’t prepared to compromise on her morals and opinions to get somewhere. This was a constant theme throughout the novel, and it certainly gave me a lot of respect for Lottie, although I respected Lottie already for her commitment to the project! Lottie was also uncompromising with her love life – even though she had a crush on the camera man, she was not prepared to act on her feelings in any way because he wasn’t a feminist. Another theme was online hate and trolls, which I thought was very well dealt with. I think that Holly Bourne is one of those authors who you can trust to get serious topics right; both Lottie and her friends responded to situation realistically, and it was treated appropriately.

The only thing about the book that I wasn’t completely keen on was that very occasionally a concept was put across (for example, activist burnout or cognitive dissonance) and the speech would feel slightly unrealistic as it was explained in a way that, for me, didn’t feel like something a teenager would just say in conversation. However, I don’t think that there was really any other way to write these ideas in, and they needed to be there, as they were pretty crucial to aspects of the plot.

All in all, What’s a Girl Gotta Do? was yet another fantastic book from Holly Bourne. I almost wish Lottie was a real person because she was just so admirable and brimming with ideas and life! The books help to make many concepts about feminism accessible for teenagers who may be unfamiliar with these ideas, and the book also embraced the modern age, with talk of Twitter and vlogging. I would really, really recommend this book, and I can’t wait for the release of the Spinster Club novella in November!

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? was published on the 1st of August 2016 by Usborne Publishing. You can find out more on Goodreads here, and purchase a copy on Amazon herehere. Holly Bourne also did some entertaining videos in the run up to the book’s release with The Mile Long Bookshelf and Hannah Witton, which are linked to on each of their names.

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