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Girl Wonder

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It's senior year and Charlotte Locke has just transferred to a new high school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future starts to seem like a black hole.

Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, and rich. As her new sidekick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team-and closer to Neal, the most perfect boy she has ever seen.

Senior year is finally looking up. . . .or is it? The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more he wants to keep their relationship a secret. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive. Could Charlotte's new BFF be hiding something?

A riveting debut novel full of magnetic characters, romantic intrigue, and dark humor, Girl Wonder is a poignant story of first love, jealousy, and friendship that will keep readers rooting for Charlotte until the very end.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published May 3, 2011

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About the author

Alexa Martin

3 books66 followers
Alexa Martin is the author of GIRL WONDER, a novel for young adults. She holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She lives near Seattle and complains about the weather a lot although she secretly likes the rain (don’t tell!) For fun and torture she runs long distances on muddy mountain trails. Over the years she’s worked a lot of random jobs in trying to keep the writing dream alive, such as the time she worked in a steakhouse even though she’s a vegetarian. Initially GIRL WONDER was about a story about a horse, which just goes to show you that art is what happens when you are making other plans.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 92 reviews
Profile Image for papalbina.
530 reviews272 followers
August 24, 2011
2.5

The book may be entertaining, but I was expecting a little bit more. I read a couple of teen books about girls falling for the wrong guys and screwing everything up and losing herself and finding herself again and parents with problems or not enough caring or... the list can be very long. Since the pattern in this book is not new, I expected it will surprise me with something else. It could have been the main character or the situation or how she gets out of it, but instead of that it bored me to dead because there was nothing new and it wasn't very good organised or combined.

Charlotte, our heroine, suffers from inferiority complex because she has a learning disability for maths, too demanding parents (father, better said, who is a self-centred idiot too, btw) and a 12-year-old genius as a brother (but lovely, caring and cute as a marshmallow *__*).

She is new in the public school and quite easily finds her way to someone who has superiority complex; I supposed to compensate her inferiority. If Amanda was so appealing and has such a charisma, I didn't notice by reading. I disliked her from the beginning. At the same time she meets the Girl Wonder, she meets the most beautiful, charismatic boy in school too and develops a crush on him that degenerates into a sexual relationship and something she thinks is love.

So far - it sounds interesting, although it wasn't that interesting and took me ages to get it read. Now we're approaching the climax with a party, costumes, drugs, sex and someone's aquarium. And that's all! She learns her lesson and breaks with the not-so-convenient guys... And suddenly, out of the blue, without warnings or logic, the "ugly duck", the character she bore a grudge becomes a swam (in a quite stereotyped way) and she falls for him. And then the book ends.

And I wonder why I read the first two thirds of the book, if the most interesting part was at the end and it was only 70 pages long. I didn't feel Charlotte growing up or learning anything about life in the first part of the story, and didn't see how she got to those resolutions from the end. The way the story was told neglected to develop the main character to just tell me not particularly interesting things.

The only things I really enjoyed from this book were James Henry and Milton and his mushrooms. A pity they didn't have more prominence!

Oh, and the synopsis is quite misleading. There is no real secret... Don't wait for the great revealing moment because it's not coming.

Many thanks to netGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing me with a galley of the book :)
Profile Image for A..
Author 11 books1,341 followers
October 1, 2011
Reading GIRL WONDER was like watching a train wreck. I wanted to look away as Charlotte drove herself full-tilt into disaster.

Crap starts piling up and Charlotte doesn't handle it well. Her parents, who are part of the problem, are too self-absorbed to notice, let alone help. Left on her own, sad, desperate, and trying to fit in, Charlotte makes one bonehead move after another.

On a certain level, I couldn't relate to Charlotte because I've never had to deal with her kinds of problems - Hallelujah! - but that's not to say I couldn't understand how she kept digging herself deeper into a very dangerous hole. I think Charlotte's honest voice will resonate with a lot of teens. Alone, lost and drowning in high school's shark-infested waters.

Amanda - the pink-haired girl wonder - just screams "Bad News!" but Charlotte gravitates to her light, bright as a nuclear blast - and just as beneficial. Then there's Charlotte's "secret" boyfriend, Neal, the perfect prince and hottest catch at school...just ask him.

Charlotte doesn't see all the red flags. Which is irritating. Most of the time I wanted to slap her silly. But she's written in such a real way that I believed she could make every stupid choice she made.

GIRL WONDER jumps head first into serious issues. The peer-pressure, parental pressure, lies, self-loathing, betrayals, drugs, alcohol, and sex swirl into a toxic mess. I was wondering if Charlotte would survive or spiral to a depressing end.

This well-written story has oodles of messages about what NOT to do, and through her struggles, Charlotte grows and matures. She understands herself better, makes smarter choices, and finds a new level of strength. GIRL WONDER is a good choice for contemporary fans interested in a darker, realistic coming-of-age.
Profile Image for Lea.
112 reviews499 followers
September 17, 2011
This really was a great book, and I loved it from the first few pages. Girl Wonder was a realistic coming-of-age story, both charming and flawed at the same time. Charlotte was an amazing main character and it was very easy to relate to her, while also seeing both the good and bad pieces of yourself in her personality. She was slightly sarcastic, cynical, and insecure. But she was also endearing, and her narration of the story made you want to keep reading. Honestly, I couldn't put this book down.


The author, Alexa Martin, did an awesome job of describing the world inside a public high school, and how hellish it can be for a new student. The stereotypes weren't blatantly forced down your throat like they are in some other YA books, but you can still see the strict social structure of the school and all the cliques that exist there. All Charlotte wants is to fit in-- unfortunately, she's never been to a public school before and she suffers from a learning disability that makes her have difficulties with reading numbers.


The dynamics of Charlotte's family were just as intriguing to read about as her school life- her dad has just become a successful published author, but he's having an affair on the side with his young publicist. Charlotte can see the strain wearing off on her mother, while her over-achieving brother James Henry, destined for an Ivy League School, eclipses her in almost everything. Charlotte has to not only make her own way in school-- she also has to learn how to be her own person and be happy despite all the high standards her family has forced on her.


Then there was Amanda-- AKA "Girl Wonder." She's the Popular Girl, but she was actually a lot different than your typical Queen Bee. She has neon-pink hair, for starters, and she's the star of the debate team. She has everything and yet she cares about nothing. It was very hard to sympathize with her, and I was so glad that Charlotte was able to make peace with herself in the end and not depend on Amanda anymore.


Neal was the biggest jerk-- but then, I guess we have all had experience with them. (If not, then we're lucky!) Basically, Charlotte is highly vulnerable and she falls for the wrong guy. She gives up nearly everything to be with him and ends up... well, I won't give it away! Fortunately, Charlotte is able to come to terms with what happens to her and find a sweet guy who is worth her time and appreciates her for who she is!


Girl Wonder was a touching book that made me laugh and cry at different points. I thought the narrative told through Charlotte's perspective was both original and familiar at the same time. This was a great coming-of-age story that was a lot of fun to read, but made me happy that I'm no longer in that awkward teenage-high-school phase!
Profile Image for Danny.
597 reviews160 followers
April 3, 2011
Oh this book was really amazing! I love it, which is why this is more a 4.5 stars for me!

This is the story about Charlotte who is surrounded by a smart and successful family. Her mom is a Professor, her dad a popular author and her little brother is a super genius which is why the moved into a new town so that James can attent a school for gifted people. Charlotte is smart too but she has a learning ability in math and is just a normal girl. But it truly doesn't help that everyone thinks she is supposed to be real smart too.

Her new school is divided in a "normal" part and a part for advanced learning, but again she failed to get into those classed and had to go to the normal school. She somehow doesn't fit anywhere right. But when Amanda a super smart, rich and very special girl takes her under her wings she feels suddenly right. Having a girlfriend everyone looks up too makes her feel more special. She also meets Neal one of the smarter boys and she crushes hard on him...

Gosh I loved Charlotte and I saw myself in her easily! She had this huge crush on Neal and when her dreams finally come true she cannot believe it. She would do anything for him, even keeping this relation secret. Soon she's caught in a secret affair that moves ahead very fast, but Charlotte is too happy to see the flaws in this relation.

I'm pretty sure people wil shake their head over Charlotte's actions, there is sex and drugs involved, so be warned. I however, found it absolutely real and honest. Teenager love is not always just kissing and soft romance and they all make mistakes and try out things. This is part of becoming an adult. Yet, Girl Wonder handled all this in a wonderful genuine way! This is what I loved most. the earnest way of Charlotte's decisions. I could totally relate to her, although of course I know better today, I know how it was when I was 17!! The only thing that bothered me was the rushed ending which is why I only gave it 4.5 instead of a full 5 star rating!

This is a wonderful book about finding your own way and making your own mistakes. The story is told in a beautiful earnest and genuine way which I can only recommend to put this one on your reading list and grab it as soon as it comes out!
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 15 books810 followers
May 27, 2011
I read this ARC via Netgalley.

Charlotte has felt inadequate in her family of Ivy League graduates, critically acclaimed authors, and professors ever since she found out she has a learning disability, and now that the family has moved to Seattle from Florida and she didn't get accepted into the private school with her brother, she must attend public school. But even at the public school, the gifted and talented program rejected her because of her math grades. Charlotte feels lost until she meets the pink-haired Amanda.

Amanda is everything Charlotte wants to be: articulate, cool, daring. And for some reason, Amanda wants to be friends with Charlotte. When Charlotte joins the debate team to spend time with her crush Neal, Amanda joins too. When Neal, a student in the gifted program, begins an intense secret relationship with her, Charlotte thinks everything is great. She doesn't worry about getting into a good school, or her grades... but why does Neal want their relationship to be a secret?

I had a hard time getting into this book because I couldn't understand why Charlotte didn't see the obvious going on around her. I think there are a lot of teens out there who will connect with Charlotte's need for acceptance and her refusal to see what is really going on. There were a few standout characters, like Charlotte's younger brother James and his classmate Milton, a boy Charlotte's age who is obsessed with mushrooms. I also enjoyed that the parents were full characters. Charlott'e realization at the end of the book almost makes up for her lack of self-confidence along the way.

There was quite a bit more sex, language and drug use in this book than I had thought there would be. Charlotte enters into a very sexual relationship very naively, and as naively takes up smoking and uses recreational drugs, mostly due to Amanda's peer pressure. There are natural consequences for her drug use but the parents never find out or punish her for it. There is some discussion of safe sex.
Profile Image for Ashley.
105 reviews7 followers
August 5, 2013
I give this book 2.5 stars. I didn't like it, mostly because it depressed me (not in the good way) and I knew all along she was making bad choices, and I didn't want her to make them. The ending was it's only good part in my mind, but I did really like the end.
Author 1 book84 followers
March 29, 2011
This was one of those books that took me a while to get into, but once I did, I was hooked. The beginning is a little slow and actually, the main character isn't all that interesting. She doesn't have any kind of hobby that would be interesting to read about, and she doesn't even have a great personality that might make up for it. Despite this, I still enjoyed the book and here's why.

Girl Wonder is honest. It doesn't shy away from difficult topics. And though Charlotte, the main character, has a lot of flaws and does things that you may raise your eyebrow at in concern, you can't help but root for her. For example, she ditches the first person to try and be her friend in fear that this girl may make her unpopular. She is jealous and therefore unsympathetic towards her smart younger brother. She can be nasty to the boy next door. She went along with the crowd even though it was against her better judgement. She never really FOUGHT for anything. She wanted things. But she never went out of her way to get them. If they happened - great! But if not, she just let it slide past her.

What made this novel so great, though, was the characters. There are a lot of books about the complex relationships between teen girls. You have the adoration friendships. The bitchy friendships. The supportive friendships. I did read another review of this book somewhere that commented on Amanda and Charlotte's friendship and how they wished it had been real. In a way, I do too. But realistically, there are a lot of teenage girls out there who are out for number one. And to be honest, it wasn't as if Charlotte deserved an amazing friendship with Amanda.

Then there were the love interests. Martin doesn't shy away from talking about sex and drugs in this book. Charlotte has sex - a lot - and does drugs. She smokes. She ditches school. She basically makes completely wrong choices, but not in the name of learning some great lesson. More so that she can find herself instead of being the person she thinks everyone wants her to be. And I find that the most realistic thing to portray about teens. There's always so many people to impress.

I loved Milton. I thought he was very sweet. I also loved the different scenes and settings that took place in this novel. One thing I cannot stand is where a book is set in maybe two or three settings (home, school, boyfriends house). BORING. But Girl Wonder had so many different locations that it was never boring. And even a conversation taking place in a room was entertaining. Maybe it was Martin's fabulous writing, but nothing ever seemed dull.

The dialogue was flawless. It was smooth and realistic without being pretencious. Especially that between Neal and Amanda. I also enjoyed that a lot was said in dialogue about the dynamics in relationships through the novel, but was never spelled out. You were left to make your own judgement from it.

All in all, a very honest and raw story. I recommend this to people who aren't afraid to get a little gritty. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Britta.
322 reviews54 followers
September 3, 2011
This book is about so many different things, but mostly it is about life. It is the story of one girl's journey that is very entertaining to read and leaves you with a hopeful, optimistic outlook on life in general (without being cheesy).

Charlotte has always been in the gifted and talented programs at school. She excels at reading and writing... but she is diagnosed with a learning disability when it comes to numbers. When Charlotte switches to Shady Groves school, she is unable to enter her normal gifted programs because of it. Now she has to brave her scary - shady - school, ridiculously easy classes, and living with the weight of the impossible expectations from her father.

Charlotte's education and learning disability may frame the novel, but this isn't just a book about school. Actually, it really isn't about school at all. It is about learning, yes, but learning from life experiences. When Charlotte gets involved with Amanda (A.K.A Girl Wonder), she will fight with everything she has to stay on the "inside". She's hanging out with the "right" group, the untouchably rich and popular.... but maybe the "right" group is more wrong. Charlotte finds herself experimenting with drugs, sex and debate team? She's kind of confused about it too. Bottom line, this story is a wonderful ride that you don't want to miss.

I was not expecting this book to be so touching, endearing, sad and funny. It had so many different levels of depth that I would have ever pegged it for. It deals with tough issues such as family drama, first love, drugs, parental pressure, failure, learning disabilities and much more. This novel is just really filled with life. The worlds are so full of life that the story is consuming. From someone who loves science fiction and fantasy, a finding a great contemporary is a big deal. I would recommend this novel without a second thought. Read it.
Profile Image for Laura.
3,645 reviews95 followers
March 17, 2011
Moving is difficult for any teen, and particularly difficult in your senior year. Making Charlotte's life worse is that she has a learning disability for math while her brother is a genius. Why Charlotte hasn't been given more tools with which to deal with her math issues is beyond me, but because of them she's not allowed to enter her new school's Gifted and Talented program. That the new school is a public school and not one of Seattle's many private schools is a huge disappointment to her father.

Something is clearly going on with Charlotte beyond normal teen angst, and her parents are too wrapped up in her father's new-found fame as an author (of a Lolita-esque book that creeps Charlotte out), his possible affair with his agent, and her mother's new job at Seattle University. Eventually she finds herself in the library (and that librarian? hated her!), which appears to be off limits to anyone except the GATE kids. There she meets Amanda, with neon-pink hair and a reputation for trouble, and falls under Amanda's spell. Through Amanda she meets Neil, school hottie and general BMOC... through both she starts on the debate team. Sex, drugs and little rock-and-roll happen, mostly under her parents oblivious eyes. That her younger brother appears the stablest of the family is problematic - but thanks to him Charlotte eventually finds her way to the end of senior year with a modicum of sanity and purpose.

While what Charlotte is going through isn't going to be new to anyone who felt sidelined in high school, there just seemed something slightly off about the book. Perhaps it was because at times the plot felt deliberate and forced, as though the author had a checklist of things she needed to go through or experience.

ARC provided by publisher.
Profile Image for The Library Lady.
3,550 reviews510 followers
September 9, 2011
This is reminding of the M*A*S*H episode where Trapper John says "Welcome to the Henry Blake Cliche Festival". Welcome to the Bad Teen Chick Novel Cliche festival.
Start with the girl who doesn't fit in, add a hot, treacherous girl who befriends her, the hotter guy who uses her, the sorta dweeby guy who really is "the one" and a younger precocious sibling. Add sex, drugs, clueless teachers and clueless parents with major issues of their own.

And then, to add the icing on the crappy cake, add numerous references to The Worst Teen Book Ever Written a.k.a "Twilight", to make it seem hip, something that will date this even faster than a fashion reference. And voila! This mish-mosh of a book.

Feh.............
Profile Image for Fae✯.
188 reviews2 followers
September 17, 2021
At first, I found it hard to read because I couldn't see what's the point of the whole book. Then I realized that THAT's the pointㅡeveryday life, bad decisions, not knowing what to do, learning, etc. ( me thinks lol )

I was ready to hate it during like the 1/3 of the book, and I was ready to drop it, but my curiosity wanted to be satisfied. It was not boring per se, it just took me a little time to get into it. And then, when I got into it, i actually like it. I guess there are a lot of clichés in there, but I didn't really mind because it worked for me.

I specifically like how it made me feel like I could relate when in fact I personally haven't experienced any of the things that haven't. Like I got into Charlotte's head and felt what she felt, if that makes sense?

I also find it interesting how the cover and the title made me thought it was gonna be about something else. I was questioning the title, until I saw the point of it all. How Amanda fit into it, and how Charlotte became better. I guess this is what coming of age is...
Profile Image for Jessica.
212 reviews49 followers
July 30, 2011
When Charlotte Locke’s family moves to Seattle, Washington her senior year of high school, Charlotte is naturally disappointed. But when she begins school and learns that she’s been bumped into lower level classes because of her low math scores, Charlotte knows the school year is off to a bad start.

But then she meets Amanda, otherwise known as Girl Wonder. Amanda is confident, gorgeous and popular. Her pink hair sets her apart, and she knows it and loves it. Charlotte is intimidated and fascinated by Amanda, all at the same time. When Amanda takes Charlotte under her wing, Charlotte is sure the school year is about to get much better. But when Charlotte gets swept into Amanda’s world, there’s no way out.

Wow. GIRL WONDER was not what I was expecting, and definitely not in a bad way. When I accepted this book for review, I was intrigued by the storyline- I’m a sucker for anything about a girl who moves to a new neighborhood and has to adjust to a new school. I had NO idea that this book was going to be as mature as it turned out to be. I was one hundred percent caught off-guard, but in the best possible way. Am I the only one who didn’t know what this story was really about? Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. This story definitely exceeded my expectations.

I’ll admit, when I first started reading, I wasn’t too impressed. Charlotte wasn’t a very exciting main character, and the story moved a bit slowly. But when Charlotte met Amanda and then Neal, and the story really picked up the pace and from then on, I finished the book in a matter of hours.

My first shock came when Charlotte and Neal finally hooked up. I was definitely not expecting that storyline to get as *ahem* graphic as it did. But, hey…this book set out to tackle real teen issues, and it certainly did that. I was intrigued by Charlotte and Neal’s relationship, although I never fully trusted Neal. I wanted to trust him because he seemed so genuine, dorky and nice but clearly that wasn’t true. Something in the back of my mind told me to not fully fall for him along with Charlotte.

And then there was Milton. I knew he was there in the background throughout the book, and something in my mind kept me wanting to urge Charlotte to give him a chance, but I knew that we’d have to wait. I really enjoyed Milton’s scenes though and found him nerdy but so sweet. I especially loved him toward the end of the book when Charlotte was acting completely oblivious and he was so obviously into her. Adorable.

Sigh, Amanda. What is there to say about Amanda? I think every girl knows an Amanda in one way or another. The girl who everyone worshiped in high school. The girl who got away with everything, and always got the guy. I understood Charlotte’s desire to want to be friends with her, but I also cringed at their toxic friendship, which reminded me of one too many toxic relationships I’ve been in myself. But then again, that’s what made this book so good. It was so easy to relate to Charlotte because haven’t we all been there?

My second shock came when Charlotte, Amanda and Neal went to a rave and proceeded to do pretty hard drugs…wow. Haven’t seen that in a YA book lately! This scene was provocative and dizzying; those are really the only two words I can think to describe it. And once again, Alexa Martin succeeded in catching me completely and utterly off-guard.

I absolutely loved the storylines involving Charlotte’s family members. Her brother Henry James had a larger than life personality that definitely added to the story. I loved how young, but smart he was and how he really cared for Charlotte and looked out for her. Charlotte’s dad, of course, angered me throughout the book, but I liked the fact that he was a published author, struggling with life in the spotlight after his book received acclaim. The tension between Charlotte’s parents and the entire family added a new dynamic to the plot that kept me grounded throughout the story.

GIRL WONDER felt realistic to me. Along with struggling with college applications and school, Charlotte is dealing with best friend drama, boy troubles and family issues. What girl hasn’t struggled with one or all of the above? It’s a pretty likely situation and I think Martin did an excellent job juggling all of the storylines while keeping the interest of the reader.

Alexa Martin is absolutely an author to watch. I know I’ll be looking forward to her sophomore novel. What a fantastic debut!
Profile Image for Karla Nellenbach.
Author 3 books60 followers
March 9, 2011
Summary:

The first day of Senior year finds Charlotte Locke at a new school with no friends, a math SAT score so low that she has to go to (gasp!) public school--regular classes, not the gifted and talented program she is used to--and quickly approaching application deadlines for colleges she has no hope of getting into anyway.



Enter Amanda Munger, resident Girl Wonder. With an electrifying mop of hot pink hair, the kind of book smarts that makes the AP classes look like child's play, a track record of getting kicked out of every private school she's attended, and enough self-confidence for twenty girls, Amanda blazes in, saving Charlotte from a boring, friendless existence.



With Amanda as her new BFF, Charlotte ascends to the upper echelon of high school life, hanging with the popular kids and generally enjoying life...especially when it the hottest guy in school, Neal Fitzpatrick, starts to show an interest in her. The only problem? The closer Neal and Charlotte get, the more he wants to keep their relationship a secret, and it doesn't help that Amanda has suddenly become uber-competitive.



Add to that: family problems (her mom and dad aren't getting along too well), a little brother whose genius-level IQ is a constant reminder to Charlotte just how lacking she is, and a mushroom-obsessed neighbor boy...and well, Charlotte has a whole mess of crap to handle all at once.



My Take:

GIRL WONDER is kind of like an onion. There are a lot of layers here, and to get the full affect, you should probably peel them back a layer at a time.



First, there's the family dynamic at play. A mother who is a well-respected college professor, a writer father who is on the verge of critical and commercial success, and a genius for a younger brother all conspire to undermine Charlotte's confidence in herself. Owning a learning disability (think dyslexia only with numbers), Charlotte is consistently failing to measure up to her father's impossibly high standards. Her brother, while he doesn't mean to make her feel bad about herself, does from time to time with his over-achieving ways, and her mother...well, her mother is kind of stuck in her own marital woes at the moment.



Then, there's the friend aspect. Mimi, the first person to befriend Charlotte, is brushed aside immediately. Charlotte, it seems, is a little too concerned with surface qualities, a flaw she no doubt learned from having to work overtime to garner her father's approval. But, being so shallow as to brush off certain people right at the get go (not just Mimi but Milton--the semi-cute, mushroom-hunting neighbor boy--as well), kind of made me not care for her at first. But, really, if she wasn't like this at the beginning, there wouldn't really be a story here...right?



And, it's this lack of depth that brings about most, if not all, her problems. Neal is hot and smart and semi-charming, but he's definitely a player and is using Char. This is obvious to the reader, not so much to Charlotte. Amanda is noteworthy in that I vacillated between liking her and hating her. I wanted her to be the friend that Charlotte thought she was, but I knew, KNEW that she wasn't. Did that stop me from hoping that maybe she'd change her ways and start being more friend-like to Char? No. Even up to Charlotte's discovery of what was really going on, I still held out hope, even though I knew what was going to happen.



Like I said, this was obvious to the reader...not so much the main character. But, isn't that always the case?



Overall, GIRL WONDER was an easy read. Martin writes in such a way that you can't help but be drawn in. That said, the beginning was a little on the slow side, somewhat dry in spots. Still, I'd be interested in seeing what she comes up with next.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,159 reviews81 followers
May 3, 2011
Every now and then I stumble across a book that I'm completely conflicted about. After finishing Girl Wonder I'm still sitting here trying to rein my thoughts in enough to write a coherent review. See, Charlotte's story makes a lot of sense. I've been the girl in her shoes for a lot of situations, and even if I haven't experienced them all myself, I know that they exist. At the same time it seemed like Charlotte's life caused her to go through every single trial that can happen to a young person. I'll explain more about what I mean below, but it was kind of disorienting.

First off, let me say that the prose with which Alexa Martin writes is stunning! Every page in Girl Wonder comes to life with descriptions, and a lot of times I was able to place myself right beside Charlotte. As a reader who loves to be a part of the story, this really kept me engaged while I was reading. Similarly, the characters are extremely well written and vivid. Each one of them had a personality that shines off the page, and I could feel myself going through the range of emotions that come along with this book. You can trust me when I say that this book will make you feel. It might not always be good, but it will definitely be there.

Now on to Charlotte's story. My main problem with Charlotte specifically was her inability to pull herself out to the "black hole" into which she was falling. Don't misunderstand me. I knew she was hurting, I saw that she was lost, but the simple fact that she wouldn't grab on to any of the lifelines that were being thrown to her was so frustrating to me. I honestly disliked her so much in the middle of the book that I thought about putting it down. I ended up reading on because I hoped, that like most coming of age books, things would start to get better for her. I kept wishing she'd look at the good things she was being given, instead of always being so negative all the time.

I understood that Charlotte was dealing with a lot. She has a learning disability, she isn't in the GATE program like she was supposed to be, she has to move her Senior year, her parents are fighting, the boy she loves is giving her mixed signals, and her so called friend is manipulative. Are you exhausted yet? I was. This only skims the surface of what is going on in Charlotte's life. I'm not denying that there are teens out there who have all this hit them in their teenage years. However this all happens to her in a matter of just one year. My conflicting emotions made me want to hug Charlotte sometimes, and slap her at others for not seeing things that were clearly there. It made this otherwise beautiful book a very tough read for me. It was almost like there was a checklist of things that happen to teens, and Charlotte had to fulfill them all.

I don't mean to imply that this book isn't a great read. It honestly is. As I mentioned above, it does make you feel and the way that Alexa Martin deals with the stigma of learning disabilities is brilliant. I was also very much drawn in by her exploration of what "love" really is. It isn't only Charlotte who is trying to figure that out in this book, and it's beautiful to watch these characters grow and learn. Honestly if it hadn't been for poor Charlotte's insane year of life, I think I would have been a lot more in love with this book. I wanted to yell, "Give the girl a break already!"

I'll end with the simple fact that this is a book about growing up and I understand that. Girl Wonder is an exploration of what it means to be an older teenager who still hasn't figured everything out yet. It is a beautifully written example of the utter hopelessness that comes along with being in this situation. For that I applaud Alexa Martin. Although there were some rough spots for me, I do see the beauty in this book. I believe that if you can in with an open heart and mind, you will too.
Profile Image for Lisa Schensted.
248 reviews47 followers
Read
July 23, 2011
in a sentence or so: Charlotte just moved with her genius little brother, her professor mom and her newly famous author father to the Pacific Northwest. now, all she has to do is prepare herself for college, make friends, and otherwise be a huge success during her senior year while being horribly socially unaware and with zero idea of what she's doing. hopeful cringing ensues.

Charlotte Locke is smart. she's clever. she's witty. she's sweet. and she's lost. after moving to a new school her senior year, and not the same one as her genius little brother James Henry, Charlotte has to start a whole new life. which, as you can imagine, just might be the most anxiety inducing process ever. so throw in the mix that Charlotte has dyscalculia (a learning disorder that makes math darn-near impossible), and Charlotte's difficult transition is made exponentially worse.

Charlotte slowly learns the ropes of the new school from the mousy student ambassador over the first few days and quickly spots the bright pink hair of Amanda. Amanda radiates confidence, sex appeal, and just has whatever It is that Charlotte does not. the fates throw Charlotte and Amanda together and soon Charlotte is entrenched in Amanda's world. deciding she needs to do something to stand out on her college applications, Charlotte decides to go for the debate team - which has nothing to do with her public speaking skills (none) and everything to do with a hot boy named Neal.

Charlotte has no idea who she is or what she wants from life. she knows what her parents want for her life, and what her friends want from their lives, and even what the boy-next-door Milton (who's obsessed with mushrooms, btw) wants from his life. but when it comes to her own, she's struggling to find out who she is and what she wants.

this book put a pit in my stomach for just about the first 3/4. Charlotte is seriously lacking social awareness, her parents are obviously going in drastically different directions, her shaky relationship with Amanda and Neal is frightening, and her total abandonment of grades and future focus is disheartening. it's a lot to handle. and that's the point. it's all too much for Charlotte and it spirals out of control and she's in over her head and you are right there with her, hoping she can stay above the surface.

i love Charlotte so much. i wanted to hold her and hug her and be her real bestie and give her legit advice and encourage her to be who she really is...instead i had to hope for the best and cheer for her when she got it right and mourn for her when she didn't. plus, her little brother is the BEST. seriously, he reminded me a bit of Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time so you know he's incredible. his friendship with Milton and his genuine adoration for Charlotte add in just the right amount of hopefulness to keep you moving.

i was all about Charlotte from the very start to the very end, and you will be too. sometimes she makes you cringe, and sometime she makes you laugh. ultimately this was a story about self-discovery and overcoming labels and loving yourself. such a good read for anyone interested in a high school drama with depth and a focus on self acceptance.

fave quote: "Yes, it was true. I was the biggest black hole of them all. Or I had been, at least, because that's how I'd seen myself. That's how I'd seen myself before Milton came along that day in the woods. Sometimes it takes another person to help you see yourself. Sometimes it takes a mushroom boy." (pg 300 | 304 Nook)

fix er up: i would have liked to see parts of the plot a bit more fleshed out - particularly the stuff with her parents and her coming into a relationship with Amanda. that's not to say it all didn't sound believable...i just wanted more development.
Profile Image for Chrissy.
819 reviews
March 18, 2011
The first thing I noticed about GIRL WONDER, by Alexa Martin, was the fabulous cover. The colors are gorgeous -- vivid and bright against the stark black background. And while I do my best not to judge a book by its cover, this was definitely a cover that made me more curious about the pages inside.

Our wonderfully flawed heroine, Charlotte, has been forced to transfer to a new, strange school just in time for her senior year. (Tragic!). To make matters worse, she's been denied entrance into the program for gifted students, much to the dismay of her Ivy-League-expectant parents, especially given that her younger brother is somewhat of a child prodigy. Charlotte suffers from a learning disability that impairs her comprehension of numbers, although she knows quite a bit about literature and public speaking, thanks in part to her father (a published author).

So, once Charlotte is thrown into the ranks of the intellectually average, she feels somewhat like a nobody. The gifted students have their own (nicer, more modern) section of the school, and those are the students with the popularity and reputation that any high school senior would crave. Charlotte hopes she can merely make it through this year, as nobody, with the possibility that maybe her mediocre SAT scores may be enough to get her into a substandard college -- at least.

Fate has other plans, though, and Charlotte soon finds herself thrown in the reigns of Amanda, a rich, beautiful, popular troublemaker of a student who becomes Charlotte's key to meeting Neal, the most perfect of the gifted seniors. Although Charlotte is sure that Neal would never take interest in an average-type girl like herself, she soon finds herself on the verge of losing her loner status -- and her virginity -- to this perfect speciman.

But, as in all good reads, someone has secrets -- Amanda, Neal, and even Charlotte's parents. Why is Amanda always intent on turning everything into a competition? Why does Neal advise Charlotte that they must keep their new relationship and total and complete secret? And why is Charlotte's dad never home anymore?

GIRL WONDER is definitely a cute, fun, readable realistic young adult fiction novel that I'm happy I had a chance to read, via the NetGalley website. The characters were completely relateable and recognizable from my own high school experiences, without being overtly stereotypical. While, at times, Charlotte seemed frustratingly naive about the situations going on around her (I'm pretty sure we ALL knew what was going on with Neal... and dad... and another young male character, light-years before Charlotte picked up on the obvious clues around her), this may not be all that unrealistic for a high school senior who walks around with her head in the clouds. (Sound familiar, anyone?)

It's always refreshing to find a book that I just want to sit down and read -- not necessarily because there are vampires, werewolves, or fallen angels leaping from the pages, screaming for my attention, demanding that I turn each page a bit faster to uncover the next plot point. No, this was more one of those YA novels where the I came to see the characters as interesting --- endearing --- and I wanted to read to see what would happen next in their lives... not just as a plot point, but as an actual (fictional) event in an actual (fictional) character's life.

Overall, I really did enjoy GIRL WONDER and I would look forward to reading more from Alexa Martin in the future!
Profile Image for Mistydawn Thrash.
46 reviews10 followers
December 5, 2014

Okay, I admit it, I'm 38 years old and adore reading the young adult books.

Young adult books are like fudge. They are sweet. You go through them fast and wonder what happened to it all. Makes you sick if you over-indulge. You find excuses to find a way to indulge even if it's not the timing isn't right. Young adult books are sinfully, deliciously, a treat to devour. As an adult I think I can relate to a storyline better then my teen daughters because I have already "been-there, done-that". They read young adult books voraciously because it's about boys, clothes, and ridiculous triangles. I read them because a part of me misses the boys, the clothes, and the ridiculous triangles. *grin*.

There was nothing spectacular about this book. A coming of age story about a girl with an unfortunate string of life changes. A move across the country. A learning disability. A lack of fitting in. A lack of communication skills. Lack of supportive parents. You get it.

At first I thought this book was going to bring a positive spin to a learning disability. I thought it was going to be about a girl who learns to be herself and accept herself, but reality is that I read the whole book and the epitome of being yourself and standing up for yourself didn't really concrete until the final pages. Instead I read about one bad decision after another. I read about starting bad habits, bad choices, and not dealing with them. I'm sure that it made the story more enjoyable for the tween girl crowd but as a mother, I cringed. Visibly.

(It could be that the book revolved around debate tournaments as a stepping off point for poor behavior choices and I'm about to send my freshman daughter off to her first debate tournament at a university four hours away left a very, very, very bad taste in my mouth.)

I can relate as an adult, who has been in high school and struggled with the popularity, the expectations, the looming future, and the peer pressure. I can emphasize and confirm fears realizing that I made it through in one piece, even with that love triangle of Sophomore year, experimentation of junior year, and fear to fail of senior year. As a parent, I turn into a raving communication monster while reading one of these frivolous stories. I literally have to bite my tongue to make sure that I don't inundate my kids with uncomfortable conversations trying to help them avoid any of the pain I'm reading about in the pages of a book. Ha!



All that being said, I was a little disappointed that the story line started with a strong emphasis on a learning disability and the havoc it can wreak on your self-esteem but was just left to dangle mid-book. I was hoping that all the bad choices that were made would end up with a strong moral message but really it just ended up with another love ending.

I thought the ending was lame. I thought the ending unrealistic. I thought the book as a whole could have made a broader statement. But, that is the mom-adult in me. If I were to be 15 again, I'd totally be wishing that some cute guy would want to teach me to snowboard. A new boyfriend and an exciting kiss is always the best ending in their opinion.

It's a quick read. Don't expect anything other then a quick read and a few smiles at memories of sneaking into a parking lot, how oblivious we always we can be to what is best for us, and how hard it is to stay true to yourself. That moral is one that follows us until our dying day and to more adult book choices!

Thrashdthoughts.com
Profile Image for First Novels Club.
49 reviews18 followers
April 6, 2011
GIRL WONDER by Alexa Martin, due May 3rd from Hyperion, caught me off-guard. I tend to be pretty picky about my contemporary realistic YA fiction. I mean, I'm a Sarah Dessen fan (is there anyone who isn't?) and if I've got a big box of tissues handy (and someone to hug later) I'll gladly curl up with a Laurie Halse Anderson, but I have to admit that I don't branch out nearly as much in this area of YA as I do for the fantastical stuff. So when I got an ARC of this book from NetGalley, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

On the surface, GIRL WONDER seems like a pretty light novel. Our MC, Charlotte, has just moved to a new town and she's starting a new school--for her senior year of high school. But not the fancy private school that her younger brother is going to, because she didn't get accepted. Charlotte has discalculia, a learning difference that is described as dyslexia but with numbers rather than letters. Her poor math scores land her in the local public school, the description of which kind of reminded of the kind of school found in inspirational teacher movies--a combination of students who sleep through class and others who are ready to eat their teachers alive, and teachers who little to no control over their class or who just don't care that much anymore. The only bright spot of the entire school is the top floor, which is renovated and dedicated to the gifted student program--just another thing that Charlotte's learning issues has kept out of her reach.

Things look pretty bleak for Charlotte until she's befriended by Amanda, the hot pink-haired rebel from the gifted program. Amanda is like the Cher to Charlotte's Tai (yay, Clueless references!) and suddenly Charlotte finds herself climbing the social ladder higher than she ever imagined.

I figured I knew how this plot would play out. Amanda and Charlotte would be friends, issues would escalate, and then, of course, Charlotte would find herself friend-dumped and have to figure out where her real relationships were. But GIRL WONDER was much more nuanced than that. Martin addresses a lot of real high school issues--friends, boyfriends, college applications, drugs and drinking, home life issues--in a way that often surprised me. I won't lie--some of the scenes kind of shocked me and reminded me just how long it's been since I've been in high school, and how much things have changed and become even more difficult to navigate.

Charlotte was a character who I didn't find likable all the time--I cringed at some of her wrong turns and her naive assumptions--but you know what? I LIKED that I didn't like her all the time. It made her feel that much more human to me. Like how even though you've got that best friend from middle school/high school/college/whatever that you would walk through fire for, sometimes that just annoy you, but in the end you love them anyway? Charlotte was like that for me. Plus, it made her transformation throughout the book that much more satisfying to read.

GIRL WONDER is definitely worth picking up if you already love contemporary/realistic YA--or even if you don't always, like me. It's a little different, a little edgier, and worth your time!

For more book reviews and much more, check out the First Novels Club blog!
Profile Image for Sara.
27 reviews13 followers
April 6, 2011
GIRL WONDER by Alexa Martin, due May 3rd from Hyperion, caught me off-guard. I tend to be pretty picky about my contemporary realistic YA fiction. I mean, I'm a Sarah Dessen fan (is there anyone who isn't?) and if I've got a big box of tissues handy (and someone to hug later) I'll gladly curl up with a Laurie Halse Anderson, but I have to admit that I don't branch out nearly as much in this area of YA as I do for the fantastical stuff. So when I got an ARC of this book from NetGalley, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

On the surface, GIRL WONDER seems like a pretty light novel. Our MC, Charlotte, has just moved to a new town and she's starting a new school--for her senior year of high school. But not the fancy private school that her younger brother is going to, because she didn't get accepted. Charlotte has discalculia, a learning difference that is described as dyslexia but with numbers rather than letters. Her poor math scores land her in the local public school, the description of which kind of reminded of the kind of school found in inspirational teacher movies--a combination of students who sleep through class and others who are ready to eat their teachers alive, and teachers who little to no control over their class or who just don't care that much anymore. The only bright spot of the entire school is the top floor, which is renovated and dedicated to the gifted student program--just another thing that Charlotte's learning issues has kept out of her reach.

Things look pretty bleak for Charlotte until she's befriended by Amanda, the hot pink-haired rebel from the gifted program. Amanda is like the Cher to Charlotte's Tai (yay, Clueless references!) and suddenly Charlotte finds herself climbing the social ladder higher than she ever imagined.

I figured I knew how this plot would play out. Amanda and Charlotte would be friends, issues would escalate, and then, of course, Charlotte would find herself friend-dumped and have to figure out where her real relationships were. But GIRL WONDER was much more nuanced than that. Martin addresses a lot of real high school issues--friends, boyfriends, college applications, drugs and drinking, home life issues--in a way that often surprised me. I won't lie--some of the scenes kind of shocked me and reminded me just how long it's been since I've been in high school, and how much things have changed and become even more difficult to navigate.

Charlotte was a character who I didn't find likable all the time--I cringed at some of her wrong turns and her naive assumptions--but you know what? I LIKED that I didn't like her all the time. It made her feel that much more human to me. Like how even though you've got that best friend from middle school/high school/college/whatever that you would walk through fire for, sometimes that just annoy you, but in the end you love them anyway? Charlotte was like that for me. Plus, it made her transformation throughout the book that much more satisfying to read.

GIRL WONDER is definitely worth picking up if you already love contemporary/realistic YA--or even if you don't always, like me. It's a little different, a little edgier, and worth your time!
Profile Image for Beetqueen.
191 reviews
June 22, 2014
1.5

I wanted to like this book, I really did. And it was perfectly ok in parts. I mean, I think a lot of teenage girls might actually like it. But, as a consumer of some really spectacular young adult fiction (John Green, Libba Bray, Lauren Oliver, etc), I found it far too predictable and quite frankly, way too trite.

Girl meets the right boy, but has no idea, and is turned off by his slight dorkyness (although he's absolutely gorgeous, just has strange hobbies, like mushroom hunting). Girl then falls for super hot guy who is completely wrong for her, uses her for sex and then cheats on her with her totally unpredictable, but perfect best friend, who he used to date. Girl gets her heart broken, cute, but dorky boy helps her pick up the pieces and surprise, he's had a crush on her the whole time, even though she was oblivious (and man, oh man, is she oblivious...I mean, considering she's so "well-read" and picks up on all the nuances of literature, the fact that she misses the crush is unbelievable). They end up kissing and she realizes who she is.

Sigh...gag.

I should have known there was a problem in the first few chapters when Charlotte is fantasizing about Robert Patton and discussing her appreciation for Edward from Twilight. That should have been literary Kryptonite for me, but since there were only like five references and the book takes place in Washington, I let it go.

Aside from the cliched plot, a HUGE problem I have with the book is that one of the main settings is a school and it is completely unbelievable. I know I'm a teacher, so I'm far more sensitive to the way schools and teachers are portrayed, but this book went way overboard. First off, the main character has a learning disability and the author acts as if it is some sort of huge social stigma. While I'm not saying there isn't a bit of one at times, Charlotte's are of concern is only math and she still gets C's in the classes. Hardly anyone knows about the disability and it doesn't hold her back in any way and yet a HUGE deal is made about it. In fact, it keeps her out of the gifted program, because at her fictional school, in order to be in the gifted program, you have to be gifted in every area. WHAT? In a public school with No Child Left Behind laws? Maybe, maybe this happens, but I highly doubt it. On top of that, those in the gifted program have a palatial wing to themselves. I disbelieve. If that wasn't enough to annoy me, her regular ed teachers are portrayed as incompetent buffoons who don't understand the material they teach, give out coloring assignments, buy any lame excuse given for skipping class and don't think it's a big deal for kids to miss final exams. While I know there are bad teachers out there, an entire school like this? Nope, sorry, not only is it not based in reality, it's downright insulting to teachers and students alike. I teach both advanced placement (gifted) and regular ed English classes and not one bit of the school environment is accurate. It doesn't take that much work, Martin should have done some more research. I know I won't suggest this book to my students and I LOVE suggesting books to my students.

If you are looking for good young adult fiction, this isn't it. It's mediocre and it's been done before.
Profile Image for Bethany Erin.
176 reviews12 followers
June 16, 2011
From the minute I started Girl Wonder, I felt a bond with the main character, Charlotte. I was her in high school—the smart, hard-working girl who knows she's smarter than her standardized test scores say she is; the people pleaser whose biggest fear is disappointing others; the girl who desperately wants some social mobility in the hierarchy of public high school popularity; the girl who will do anything to get the attention of THAT guy.

Yeah. I was her. In fact, the parallels between me and Charlotte are a little uncanny. I felt as if I was reading my own high school story, which made it actually kind of hard to get through—I wanted to go into the book, sit Charlotte down, and tell her all the things she should do to "fix" her problems. But since she's not really real, all I could do was read and sort of re-live all my crazy high school days.

*le sigh*

My favorite thing about this book was actually Charlotte's relationship with her family. In fact, it's familial issues that are at the center of her problems—Charlotte is constantly striving to please her father, a newly published author garnering massive critical acclaim for his smutty novel; trying to be more like her mother, a literature professor; and comparing herself to her little brother who is a boy genius. In an effort to better herself, Charlotte feels that she needs to befriend people who will make her better: enter Amanda, the confident, daring, manipulative frenemy and Neal, the perfect, gorgeous, but entirely selfish guy. Charlotte is immediately taken with both of them and works to get close to them; as the self-proclaimed older version of Charlotte, I immediately hated them both with a burning, fiery passion and labeled them both as bad news.

But Charlotte did not label them as bad news. [The high school version of me wouldn't have either.] She wants so badly to be a part of their group that she puts herself in terrible situations, lets people take advantage of her, and continues to feel horrible about herself. In fact, she's so obsessed with impressing Amanda and Neal, that she is blind to the incredible guy who is so into her he can hardly breathe. I wanted to shake her. But I could not.

Overall, Girl Wonder is a classic case of girl-gets-in-over-her-head. Charlotte's life has to completely unravel for her to figure out how to put the pieces back together in an order that is right for her. To be entirely honest, if I hadn't felt so close to the character, I probably wouldn't have been as invested in this book—it's a fairly typical coming-of-age story. However, it's an accurate portrayal of not only teenagers getting in over their heads, but of the many factors weighing on them—peer pressure to have sex and experiment with drugs, familial pressure to get into the "right" college, and learning how to handle situations that there is no way to control. Debut author Alexa Martin does a great job of showcasing just how hard it is to grow up. If only it was that easy to actually grow up.
Profile Image for Sarah.
40 reviews3 followers
August 16, 2011
Relocating across the country is never easy, and for Charlotte Locke, who just moved to Seattle to start a new school at the beginning of her senior year, things couldn’t get any worse. She has no friends, her parents’ marriage seems to be crumbling before her eyes, and her low math scores kept her out the private school her parents expected she would attend. Then Charlotte meets Amanda, the charismatic, rebellious Girl Wonder who seems to have the key to everything Charlotte is looking for (confidence, popularity, an “in” with the hottest guy in school Neal), and her world is turned upside down.

There are a lot of issues in this book (friendship, first love/lust, school, changing family dynamics and relationships, drugs, sex, etc), but I really struggled to connect with Charlotte (or any of the characters). Despite the fact that Charlotte deals with a learning disability and lives with her father’s harsh judgment every day, I found Charlotte to be really shallow, and overly concerned with what would be considered “cool” or popular. When a not-so-popular girl tries to befriend Charlotte on the first day of school, she brushes her off out of fear of what others will think of her, and prefers to be alone until she is befriended by Amanda. Charlotte faces a similar situation in her love life—a cute but nerdy boy from her brother’s private school falls for Charlotte from day one, she looks at him with disdain in favor of Neal, her boyfriend who wants to just keep things a secret. I don’t know if it was just because I was reading the book from an adult perspective, but it was very obvious from very early on what the result of the Neal/Charlotte/Amanda relationship would be, and aside from the drugs and the rave at the climax of the book, there were not many twists or surprises to keep it interesting.

I found the writing to be flat at times, and the first half of the novel was slow going for me. It did seem to flow better towards the second half as the pace picked up, but the book’s dialogue did not feel authentic--I work with teens every day, and realistic dialogue is something I always look for because teens will catch on right away when characters are speaking the way they perceive adults think teens speak. Towards the beginning, the author included pop culture (Twilight) references in conversations that already make the book seem a little bit dated.

I was hoping this would be a book that would appeal to reluctant readers, but I think the issues with the dialogue/slow start to the book would scare them away before they hit the point that the pace picked up. While this book isn’t terrible, there are others that cover similar issues and territory and do a better job of it.
September 16, 2011
Charlotte Locke transferred to a new high school for her senior year and often feels judged for her learning disability in math. In her family, she is surrounded by high achievers and Charlotte is just trying to find her own way. She meets Amanda, a rich non-conformist, who takes Charlotte under her wing. She also meets Amanda's friend, Neal, who happens to be Charlotte's dream guy. They all join the debate team, hangout, and attend crazy parties, but Charlotte finds that she is losing herself as she is trying to be someone she is not just to fit in. Girl Wonder by debut author Alexa Martin is a cautionary tale about trying to fit in, the perils of peer pressure, and essentially losing yourself in the process.

You can't help but feel sympathy for Charlotte who is just trying to have a good senior year at a new school. She falls into the trap of trying to impress Amanda and Neal, which ultimately sends her on a downward spiral and she ends up doing many things she will regret thanks to peer-pressure. What Charlotte needs is the guidance of a good friend or mentor, but her dad, a successful novelist, doesn't have time for her and only cares about her SAT scores. Her mom, a literature professor, doesn't really pay much attention to her either, because she is more focused on her failing relationship with her husband. Her brother, who is younger and has a good heart, tries to be her friend, but to make matters worse, he is pretty much a genius and Charlotte finds herself in his shadow quite often. I just wish she found a good friend towards the beginning of the Girl Wonder, because that is what she really needed.

Amanda is the girl in high school I'm sure we all knew. She is too cool for school and tries so hard to stand out. She's manipulative and a horrible friend, but Charlotte, being insecure and weak, tries very hard to be close to her. On the other hand, Neal, I just didn't get. I don't see why Charlotte put up with him. He's pretentious, haughty, and deceptive. I desperately wanted Charlotte to see his true colors, but I know in high school that is harder than it seems.

Girl Wonder is filled with peer-pressure, dangerous drugs, underage drinking, and sex. I could never put this book in my classroom since I teach middle school, but on the other hand, I can see many high school students relating to Charlotte's story. I did find most of Girl Wonder to be depressing, but by the end readers will be pleased as Charlotte really grows and finds her way after all. Ultimately, Martin shows us what many high school students have to deal with on a daily basis and for me, it was eye opening.
Profile Image for Alan.
295 reviews7 followers
September 8, 2011
This book was a little disappointing to me.
It grabbed me in the prologue when we meet Jessie and Kara, two ten year old girls who are best friends, hanging out in a tree playing a make-believe game on the grounds of their elementary school. They've been playing this game since the first grade and while they know it's time to stop playing make-believe games, they just have so much fun doing it that they can't stop. The game is over when a teachers aide comes for Jessie. Jessie's mother and father have been called to the school to have a meeting with her and the schools psychologist. It's here that we learn that Jessie has been diagnosed with a learning disorder that makes it hard for her to learn math, and Jessie would have to receive help from the resource specialist. Two other girls in her class have been receiving help from the resource specialist, and Jessie know's that behind their backs the other kids call them retards.
I love the paragraph that ends the prologue "We never played (that game)again. We never even acknowledged that we quit. Overnight, it seemed we left childhood behind, little guessing that the door into the great wide world only swung one way."
The prologue got my attention and got me interested and invested in Jessie. I say Jessie because after the prologue almost nothing is said of Kara, the two just share a couple of text's during the rest of the story. Ok, so the prologue wasn't setting up the relationship for the story or even for later in the story, I can live with that. The other major theme of the prologue is Jessie finding out that she has a learning disorder, and while that does play some role in the rest of the story, it's not a major role, unless we're talking about it's affect on how she relates to her parents and to others.
The rest turns out to be too predictable, girl meets dorky next door neighbor boy, Milton (yeah she ends up with the dorky kid) girls meets a boy, Neal, and girl, Amanda, at school who should be out of her league, the guy is on the debate team the girl works in the library where she ends up while looking for a safe place to eat lunch. Amanda befriends her, then joins the debate team with her. Jessie is totally enamored with Neal and, of course ends up sleeping with him. Amanda's about as much trouble as Neal as she introduces Jessie to smoking, taking a hit of acid before she ends up sleeping with Neal. While I'm complaining, what's was supposed to be going on with Jessie feeling badly, nauseous , maybe a low grade fever, it's talked about in several parts of the story but it's just left hanging.
All in all I enjoyed the story, it's well written it was just too predicatble.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kvothem.
128 reviews8 followers
September 10, 2011
This book was a little disappointing to me.
It grabbed me in the prologue when we meet Jessie and Kara, two ten year old girls who are best friends, hanging out in a tree playing a make-believe game on the grounds of their elementary school. They've been playing this game since the first grade and while they know it's time to stop playing make-believe games, they just have so much fun doing it that they can't stop. The game is over when a teachers aide comes for Jessie. Jessie's mother and father have been called to the school to have a meeting with her and the schools psychologist. It's here that we learn that Jessie has been diagnosed with a learning disorder that makes it hard for her to learn math, and Jessie would have to receive help from the resource specialist. Two other girls in her class have been receiving help from the resource specialist, and Jessie know's that behind their backs the other kids call them retards.
I love the paragraph that ends the prologue "We never played (that game)again. We never even acknowledged that we quit. Overnight, it seemed we left childhood behind, little guessing that the door into the great wide world only swung one way."
The prologue got my attention and got me interested and invested in Jessie. I say Jessie because after the prologue almost nothing is said of Kara, the two just share a couple of text's during the rest of the story. Ok, so the prologue wasn't setting up the relationship for the story or even for later in the story, I can live with that. The other major theme of the prologue is Jessie finding out that she has a learning disorder, and while that does play some role in the rest of the story, it's not a major role, unless we're talking about it's affect on how she relates to her parents and to others.
The rest turns out to be too predictable, girl meets dorky next door neighbor boy, Milton (yeah she ends up with the dorky kid) girls meets a boy, Neal, and girl, Amanda, at school who should be out of her league, the guy is on the debate team the girl works in the library where she ends up while looking for a safe place to eat lunch. Amanda befriends her, then joins the debate team with her. Jessie is totally enamored with Neal and, of course ends up sleeping with him. Amanda's about as much trouble as Neal as she introduces Jessie to smoking, taking a hit of acid before she ends up sleeping with Neal. While I'm complaining, what's was supposed to be going on with Jessie feeling badly, nauseous , maybe a low grade fever, it's talked about in several parts of the story but it's just left hanging.
All in all I enjoyed the story, it's well written it was just too predicatble.
Profile Image for Melissa .
643 reviews61 followers
February 8, 2017
After moving to a new town and a new school, Charlotte Locke, struggles to find a place where she can fit in. After being refused admission to the GATE (Gifted and Talented) program at her new school because of her learning disability in math, Charlotte feels like she is stranded in a sea of substandard education; until she meets Amanda (aka Girl Wonder). Amanda is everything Charlotte wishes she could be, confident, intelligent, and fun. As Charlotte begins to enjoy the newness of popularity, she begins to discover that the higher you are, the harder you fall.


WOW! Alexa Martin has written a novel that transports the reader back into high school once more complete with insecurities, competition, and a deep seeded desire to fit in.

Martin's characterization is phenomenal. I couldn't believe how much I connected with Charlotte while reading this novel. Charlotte's insecurities were so understandable and believable for a teen in her situation. In some ways it reminded me very much how I felt in high school, desperate to fit in, but still wanting to be myself. I love how Charlotte makes excuses at first for not wanting to do some of the more outrageous or rule breaking things that Amanda did. I was pleased to see her be true to herself in the face of peer pressure, yet even the strong sometimes falter.

Amanda was everything Charlotte longed to be; smart, sexy, confident, rich, and in control of her environment. People looked at Amanda with awe and Charlotte wanted to be just like her. Charlotte bases her decisions on her desire to fit in and get the guy--even if you have to go along with antics she didn't agree with.

In many ways this was a novel of self discovery. Charlotte has to learn what she wants and learn to be comfortable with herself. She has spent so long trying to please everyone, be what everyone wants her to be, and to fit in that she loses herself.

I can't say how much I enjoyed this book. The realism was fantastic and the character development was spot on. I could believe that Charlotte was a real person, and I could understand her desperate desire to fit in and be liked--it is a desire that I believe all teens feel at one point or the other.

Overall this is realistic fiction at its finest.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Sex, mild language, some drug and alcohol use may make this one a bit much for readers who aren't comfortable with those topics. Recommended for older high school age teens.
Profile Image for Melanie Goodman.
95 reviews15 followers
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April 20, 2011
Charlotte Locke is a small fish in a big pond. Her mother is a professor, her father a famous writer, and her little brother a genius. Charlotte is relatively average, her giftedness in language arts balanced out by a learning disability in math. When her family moves right before her senior year of high school, Charlotte is unable to gain admittance to the fancy private school where her brother will attend or the Gifted and Talented program at the local public school. Stuck in regular classes with regular students, Charlotte feels out of place and unsure of her future. Unsure, that is, until she meets Amanda and Neal.

Amanda is known around school as Girl Wonder. She’s a charmer who gets what she wants and a troublemaker with a penchant for getting kicked out of schools. Neal is a talented debater whose mastery of language and public policy is overshadowed only by his hotness. These rich and popular kids have the power to spur or squash Charlotte’s popularity. At first, she is on their good sides, secretly sleeping with Neil and palling around with Amanda. Things are starting to look up in Charlotte’s social life, even if her academic future is on a downhill slide. But when your entire social life is balanced precariously on the whims of a Girl Wonder, the highs can’t last forever.

This high school story may have its share of clean extracurricular fun, but debate isn’t the only activity going on outside of school. Alexa Martin’s fast-paced first novel is filled with drugs, smoking, sex, raves, jealousy, and a bit of chaos. (There’s also some mushroom hunting, but only for the legal kinds, really.) Girl Wonder takes you on a wild ride in the life of a girl with a lot to live up to and a lot of confusion about how to take the right steps toward what should be a promising future. A school system that is unfair to kids who don’t fit inside the box and a dysfunctional family that is unsure how to deal with a child who is different both make Charlotte’s life much more difficult to navigate.

Girl Wonder is packed to the brim with drama and angst. It was a quick and enjoyable read, though I would have loved to see the novel developed further. I felt catapulted through the story, hanging on for dear life and enjoying the ride, until reaching an ending that seemed rushed and undeveloped. The conclusion may have tied up most of the loose ends, but it did so in a list form that I wish had been expanded upon more. Despite that, Girl Wonder is a book that will resonate with teens struggling to fit in at home and at school.
Profile Image for Megan Alabaugh.
568 reviews23 followers
March 23, 2011
Everyone knows it's hard to be the new girl, but for Charlotte Locke it seems impossible. It's hard to fit in when you move during your senior year. To make matters worse, because of her math-related learning disability, she is not allowed into the gifted program. Things at home are bleak too. Charlotte stresses about her mom's health, when her dad isn't away talking about his best-selling book he nags her about college applications and learning to drive, and as usual, her genius younger brother continues to outshines her in all aspects of life. Things start to look up when she meets Amanda. Amanda is the school's fearless, beautiful, confident, rich, pink-haired Girl Wonder. Charlotte's role as Amanda's new side-kick provides instant popularity and access to Neal, the hottie captain of the debate team. Charlotte joins the debate team to pad her college applications and to get close to Neal. Soon Charlotte and Neal begin a physical, but secret relationship. As Charlotte falls in love she fails to notice the small shifts occurring in her relationships and with her family until it is too late.

The first thing that comes to mind after reading this book is "all that glitters is not gold." It's a difficult lesson to learn, but everyone goes through it at some point. Charlotte is a perfectly flawed main character and the author beautifully captures the recklessness, exuberance, and insecurities that characterize the typical high school experience. Despite relying on a number of clichés, Girl Wonder is an honest and touching look at the pressures that teens feel as they try to find their place in among their peers, within their families and in the world at large. Charlotte makes mistakes along the way, but her journey has a satisfying end that leaves her a stronger, more confident person. This ending is not marred by its predictability because readers will be cheering for Charlotte all the way. There are plenty of lesson to learned in this debut novel, but none come off as preachy. This book will appeal to more mature fans of realistic fiction, chick lit, and stories with strong female characters. This book does contain mature content and may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Pair this book with Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales. Fans of Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen will also appreciate this coming of age story.

112 reviews7 followers
June 17, 2011
I was very surprised by this book. A lot of books deal with "finding yourself" and peer pressure and fitting in with people for all the wrong reasons, but Alexa Martin has created something that feels real.

It took me a while to get into Girl Wonder because some of the plot points didn't really pan out. The fact that Charlotte had a learning disability didn't really go anywhere, nor did the fact that she wasn't in GATE. But then again, these were things that helped transition the story into its main plot.

The characters both fascinate and confuse me. I still don't know why Neal wanted to keep his and Charlotte's relationship a secret. Was he really just cheating on her the whole time? A lot of times in YA books there's the theme that popular people only like those "beneath them" for something they have. At first I thought this was the case in Girl Wonder, but I came to realize that it seemed like Neal and Amanda really did like Charlotte, and I was almost sad at the end with what became of there characters. They may have annoyed Charlotte but I thought Milton and James Henry were hilarious and I wish there had been more of them in the book.


I noticed that there was a strong subplot that had to do with Charlotte's family (specifically her parents) and I wish there had been more of her family in the book. I think it wold have been a good balance to her crazy school life, even though her family life was pretty crazy, too.


There were two things that I noticed that really endeared me to this book. One was the characters' progression. I could really see Charlotte growing and learn that she needed to start doing what was right for her and not take the crap she had been taking from some people. The second was how certain parts seemed so realistic, specifically her getting over someone. She had her time to be sad and mopey but she didn't stay in mopey land forever. She got over it and moved on, and for some reason hat made me very happy.


In short, Girl Wonder is an honest look at what peer pressure can lead to and how important it is to know who you're dealing with. It's got its humorous side and its serious side, but they come together nicely to tell Charlotte's story in quite a nice way.
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