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Just a Girl

Review

Just a Girl

Carrie Mesrobian, author of SEX & VIOLENCE and CUT BOTH WAYS, spotlights teenage stereotypes and introduces genuine coming-of-age struggles in her latest novel, JUST A GIRL. After Rianne Hettrick-Wynne’s high school career of multiple drunken parties and casual hookups, she finds herself in her senior year with a serious boyfriend as her divorced parents rekindle a love that was previously lost. With her mother kicking her out of the house by the beginning of summer, Rianne finds herself at a crossroads in her life, questioning what it is she really wants for her future --- but somehow, she always comes up short. That is, until she meets a Russian guy named Sergei who seems to be the only person who understands her.

"JUST A GIRL was an unexpected read that I found both compelling and controversial. It touched the subject of unspoken teenage encounters and I think that any teens or young adults could find something in this novel to relate to."

I should mention beforehand that this novel had a lot of sex. I mean, tons of it. It seemed that the main character, Rianne, always turned to that aspect when things got tough and it was pretty much an escape for her. Even if at times it wasn’t for enjoyment, but just a distraction which led to her “easy girl” reputation among her fellow peers. However, my problem with Rianne wasn’t her sex life, but the fact that during the entirety of her relationship with her boyfriend, she was cheating on him with another guy. I understand that Mesrobian was trying to display some authentic relationships, but it just brought up too many red flags for me.

However, the main thing I did enjoy about this novel was how real the characters were. I felt the pain that they felt when some of them had no clue what they wanted from life, but also felt the happiness they encountered when they made even the simplest of accomplishments. It made me think that if I walked into any high school at this very moment, I could find a group of teems like the ones in this story. They were complex and flawed but at the same time relatable and I couldn’t help but imagine that teens from anywhere in the world could find this book and understand some of the hardships that these characters were going through.

I do have to say that the story was realistic and strange and had me hooked from beginning to end. It is definitely a discussable book that has a fair share of problematic themes, but it does follow the message of the title clearly; that our society always seems to stereotype girls who like to party, drink, have a good time, etc. but --- in the case of this novel --- Rianne is “Just a Girl."

In the end, JUST A GIRL was an unexpected read that I found both compelling and controversial. It touched the subject of unspoken teenage encounters and I think that any teens or young adults could find something in this novel to relate to. Mesrobian’s writing was different in a way that had me wondering how something written about this topic could have me question so much.

Reviewed by Taylor F., Teen Board Member on May 29, 2017

Just a Girl
by Carrie Mesrobian