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The Geography of Girlhood

3.3  ·  Rating details ·  522 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
On her fourth birthday Penny received a globe from her mother: "If you ever need me . . . just remember I'll always be somewhere on here." Two weeks later her mother left, never to return. In a powerful verse novel, Penny charts the landscape of her high-school years--her older sister's wild ways, her best friend's descent into depression, her first boyfriend's accidental ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 7th 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published March 1st 2006)
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Crank by Ellen HopkinsIdentical by Ellen HopkinsI Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa SchroederBurned by Ellen HopkinsImpulse by Ellen Hopkins
YA Novels in Verse
149 books — 256 voters
Crank by Ellen HopkinsImpulse by Ellen HopkinsIdentical by Ellen HopkinsBurned by Ellen HopkinsGlass by Ellen Hopkins
Novels in Verse
278 books — 657 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Me for

Novels told in verse usually fall into two categories: those that simply tell a story with poetry, and those that manage to capture a life so eloquently in verse that you fall headfirst into the story. THE GEOGRAPHY OF GIRLHOOD, thankfully, falls into the latter category. Kirsten Smith has managed to pen, through verse, the story of fourteen-year old Penny Marrow, a girl you will laugh with, cry with, and get to know very, very well within the pages of this boo
Aug 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teenage-lament
This book had such an ease and flow. It was easy to read it in a day due to the free verse of the pages.
I actually do not think the title is stupid, the line toward the ending that says, "Isn't it strange the places on the map, your heart can take you?" All relating back to her mother, all relating back to her life. That the geography of a girl is all over, they don't stay in the same wavelength as people, they think of love as if it could be more than once. I truly believe it shouldn't be calle
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
A poignant coming-of-age story, written as a series of poems in a 14-year-old girl's diary. An easy, quick, enjoyable read.

"When I break up with Randall,
everyone wants to know why
I'd do something so dumb.

What I want to know is,
haven't they ever heard a song
or read a poem or watched a movie?

If they had, they'd know
that love is a school
where the only curriculum is kissing,
love is the first day of sun
after a whole winter of rain,
love is a secret thicket of small trees
just outside of town,
love is h
Apr 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: one-time-deal
I felt that this would have been the type of book I would have liked to reader back in high school when my teachers forced me to read books I did not enjoy. This verse novel breaks up the story into what seems like diary entries. It is much friendlier of a read than what I used to read (endless endless words on pages). As an adult, I would definitely NOT want my teenage daughter reading this book.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
Turns out The Geography of Girlhood was written by someone who knows a lot about teenage girls – at least in the movies. Kirsten Smith is the co-writer of some classic teen flicks including 10 Things I Hate About You, Ella Enchanted and one of my all-time, never-get-sick-of-it faves She’s the Man. (I can not stress how much I love She’s the Man. I’ve seen it many times and it still makes me laugh. I love that I can share it with my students when we study Twelfth Night.)

When The Geography of Girl
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: high school girls who aren't happy
The "Geography of Girlhood" is the story of Penny, a girl we follow in verse from ages 14 to about 16. Penny has a wild older sister, a dysfunctional and missing mother, and a father who is trying to cope with it all on his own. Penny's father eventually marries a marine biologist and brings a new vegan wife and step-brother into his white bread/red meat world. In the end Penny grows a bit and discovers her step-brother isn't so bad; her life is her life and she needs to accept it.

There are seve
Okay, so the title "The Geography of Girlhood" sucks. I mean that is a severely cruddy title, but in many ways it truly reflects this novel. It was overly dramatic and very whiny. Penny goes from being a sweet, awkward 14 year old to a promiscuous teen for reasons not clearly explained in the novel. Sure, her mother abandoned her family, her boyfriend of five minutes died in a freak accident, and her best friend is hospitalized for being a nut-so, but why does Penny go "crazy"? I still can't fig ...more
Books that are in verse format are not my thing. I admit before reading The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith, I had never read a book written in this format before and it threw me off completely. The Geography of Girlhood has a main character by the name of Penny. She talks about the different stages of a girl’s life. She talks about her family, particularly her sister who she isn’t sure she likes, two guys that she dated, and the infatuation that is tied to teenage romance. An obvious con ...more
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Typically I do not get into the books in verse, but this one was well done. It had it's moments of good writing. I would recommend it.
Patricia (Patricia's Particularity)
The Geography of Girlhood is simply about a girl growing up, becoming a young adult, without certain "guides". At a young age, Penny's mother left her and her family, leaving her, her sister and her father behind. Just like most sister relationships, Penny secretly looks up to her older sister while the two bicker and fight all the time. Penny struggles with all the little and large aspects in growing up as she starts high school.

Kirsten Smith's use of Free-Verse offers a new point of view and
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
The benefit of the novel-in-verse is that it pauses to examine moments in detail. Without prose you lose the narrative force and the explanatory background, but you gain a collection of feelings, sensations, dots in an impressionist painting. In connecting the dots, we become participants in creating the story.

Of course the downside of most novels-in-verse is that most novelists are such crappy poets but here, for once, the poetry is actually good.
Tonight, my dad calls me outside.
At first I th
Brewer Community School
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I just finished “The Geography of Girlhood” by Kristen Smith. I rate this book a 4.5 out of 5. It was really good and I like the format of the book how it’s in poetry form. This book is about a girl named Penny who is ready to be in love and escape away from home. She wants an adventurous guy like her sisters boyfriend Bobby. Her sister is a rebel and does makes some bad choices with Bobby. Penny has a boyfriend, who is one of the most popular guys in school, and after a little while of dating, ...more
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Started out too light, too young, too sweet. What was I expecting from another YA verse novel? I'm really glad I stuck with this, because the first impressions were just a ruse: it has weight, wisdom, and an edge. Although it is a scant 182 page, it spans the end of middle school (9th grade in this book), the first year of HS, two summers, and part of Junior year. By the last page, quite a bit of ground has been covered, physically and emotionally.

Penny's voice is particularly clear, and Smith m
Katie Fitzgerald
Despite its cheesy and loaded title, The Geography of Girlhood was actually one of the best-written novels in verse I've ever read. I think the plotting was a bit unusual in that the book is shorter than most YA novels, but covers more than two years' worth of events. I didn't feel rushed, really, at any point, but it did give me pause a couple of times when I realized that 30 pages or so could equal an entire year, and that so much more had to have happened to Penny in that time than what we we ...more
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: slis-5425
The format of writing a novel in verse is no longer novel, but it is used to great effect in this book. Penny tells her story in more than her words, in her thoughts and feelings. These same feelings that are hard for a teenage girl to express in narrative, come alive in unstructured verse.

Penny's older sister Tara, is who Penny both yearns to be, and is afraid of becoming - because her mother was seemingly as wild as Tara, and left when Penny was four. Her father gets remarried to a vegan with
Alex Konieczny
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
In my efforts to expand my reading horizons, I went in search of Chic Lit that would be interesting and maybe, go beyond just l-i-t. Interesting, but ultimately tame, [The Geography of Girlhood is the basic story of Girl envies bad girl sister, abandons friends, discovers some interesting new ones, has an nice first boyfriend, that ends, ends with a bad boy, losses virginity, and then reflects on what is uncertain about life. Written in verse, it is a good way to introduce girls to poetry, but i ...more
Feb 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
When Penny's mom leaves two weeks after giving her a globe telling her she'll always be somewhere on it Penny is left with her dad and older sister. Eventually her dad remarries and she has a step brother who she doesn't like. When she starts high school people say she's going to be "killed" by a upperclassman for talking to her. Her friends from middle school leave her. After years of Penny wanting her sisters boyfriend that's what she gets, but after she has it she doesn't want it. Running awa ...more
Steph Su
Apr 21, 2009 rated it liked it
THE GEOGRAPHY OF GIRLHOOD is a novel-in-verse that stares unflinchingly into the broken and confused life of a high school girl. Penny’s mother left her, her father, and her older sister Tara a long time ago. Tara is the cool older sister who hardly gives Penny the time of day, and Penny’s two best friends are drifting apart, turning into people she hardly knows.

Thus, Penny must navigate the choppy waters of adolescence by herself. Sometimes she gets things right, but most of the time she’ll mak
Apr 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fiction-girly
A solid poetic novel about a teenager's search for identity inside a newly blended family. There are well-drawn relationships between the main character and her boyfriend, her younger stepbrother, her older sister, her new stepmother, and her father. When the main character runs away, you understand why she does it, and when she changes her mind and goes home, you understand that, too. I don't think I would recommend this for poor readers: the book is easy to read, but there's quite a bit left t ...more
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really connected with Kirsten Smith's style. I loved how she could take something you thought was predictable and twist it in a different way. As far as verse novels go, I really thought this one was artistic, creative, and fresh.

She deals with some very real issues, like mental illness and running away. And I can really see how the latter makes sense in a teen girl's head. The voice was great, even if there were a few spots where the author sounded a bit too much like an adult, like in the p
Dec 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Penny is leaving Junior High and heading into High School...very scary time in her life for her, but once she is involved in HS, she realizes that she did a lot of worrying for nothing. Penny's life revolves around thoughts of love, popularity and whether she is going to be accepted by others. Penny's mother left when she was very young and now in her life is a Stepmother and a stepbrother. Penny is always comparing herself to her older sister, Tara - who is basically the "bad girl" of the famil ...more
Kathy Blodgett
Jul 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was brought in from home, and then abandoned and donated to the classroom by one of my students. I thought (given the synopsis) I should read it first before adding it. It's a very quick read, as it's written in verse. It didn't particularly grab this reader, but then again, I'm not the intended audience. It touches on many teen topics without too much graphic detail. It just might be a good selection for a mature yet reluctant preteen reader reader; and I do love that it's in the poet ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it liked it
3.5 This was an interesting book written in prose. It was short and sweet and to the point. It's amazing how Smith knew exactly how a teenage girl thinks. She really channeled thar thought process with the main character Penny. Penny is a stereotypical teenage girl who believes that she knows everything there is to know about making the right decisions. Smith shows readers through the important time period in Penny's life where she learns how to be a teenager. How to take things one step at a ti ...more
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hs-07-08, reviewed
This book was narrated by Perry, the main character. It was a fast read because she never went into detail with anything. She talks about her teenage years and how she felt about each event. She questioned alot and realized alot too. She talks about what happens at school, with her friends, and her family. Once again, she never ever went into detail so it was as if she skimmed through a couple years at once.

Pretty good book, i felt i could connect to her a bit but not too much. It gave me a sens
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
I picked up this book knowing nothing about it and feared it would be another teen girl book filled with the drama of coming of age. It was anything but that. Eloquently written in verse, Penny brings a fresh voice to coming of age as she tries to figure out the world in which she lives. Smith doesn't try to give every day-to-day detail of a pivotal moment in Penny's life; rather, she briefly moves Penny from middle school through part of high school in brief poetically written vignettes. Penny ...more
The book The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith was a great book. Overall, it taught me that you don't need to change for anyone. You're perfect just the way you are. Penny, the main character learns that throughout the story as she battles being a teenage girl. I encourage teenage girls to read this book so that they can learn what Penny learned. You don't need to be perfect for anyone. Anyone who tries to change you is dumb. You should always be grateful for what you have and Penny finally ...more
Sep 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting to like this book as much as I did. The truth is, I have a weakness for novels written in verse. Verse seems more accurate somehow than the pretense and trappings of traditional novels. In verse, you can show the ebb and flow of thoughts, the rhythm of consciousness. This book seemed like a fairly decent portrayal of growing up, and although the protagonist's choices aren't the same as mine, I have definitely felt many of the things described in this book.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
this was a pretty great book.
its about a girl who wants to grow up and be like her sister. especially since shes starting high school. she also gets a new stepmom. she has no one to talk or relate to.
i liked this book because i love books in verse and i just wanted to keep reading and reading...
i would recommend this book to people who enjoy a sweet teenage realistic fiction book were people want to find their true selves.
Mrs. Hassig
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book last night and I'm going to send it to BV Southwest. It's written in prose and is very prophetic and insightful. However, it is definitely a more mature read for our middle schoolers. The author Kirsten Smith was co-writer for "Legally Blonde" and "Ella Enchanted" to name a few. I think high school gals will appreciate the story of a girl who's just trying to figure out who in the heck she is while everyone else is trying to figure out the same thing.
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
i like the format in which it was written - short verses - it's different. i also like her style of writing - it cuts to the chase without excessive verbage - makes for a quick read. i found it very real. A lot of times I will read a book and it will seem like the writer is penning the experiences of the character like an outsider. I much prefer when the writer makes you feel like you are living in the character's head or you can totally relate to their experience.
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Kirsten Smith is a screenwriter of girl power movies and an author of YA novels. She co-wrote LEGALLY BLONDE, 10THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, THE HOUSE BUNNY, SHE’S THE MAN and THE UGLY TRUTH. Her poetry has been published in The Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah and The Massachusetts Review. A native of the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Los Angeles with a boy and two dogs.
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“and we laugh and laugh and
all I know is
at this moment I feel like
I can do anything I want
and be anyone I want
and go anywhere on the globe
and still call it home”
“A good imagination may be the best friend of loners.” 25 likes
More quotes…