David's Reviews > Mostly Good Girls

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
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's review
Jun 15, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, read-in-2011, ya-mg, humor, faves-read-in-2011
Read from November 12 to 13, 2011

Having recently read and quite liked Leila Sales' second novel, Past Perfect, I expected a solid effort from her debut as well, though thanks to some of the reviews (speaking of, I'm quite embarrassed for what is the top-listed review for the book on this site at the moment) thought it might be a little breezier and in the vein of the sort of novel that is well-written and funny with some brain behind it, but while being a good read doesn't leave much to think about a few minutes after closing the pages, a pretty standard "3 star" kind of read.

And to be honest, it does start out that way. Told initially in vignettes then closing into a somewhat more traditional structure in the home stretch, Girls clings to familiar tropes and some mixed attempts at humor early on, slowly working its way into a bit of a deeper story midway through and really bringing it home in the last 50-70 pages or so.

Near the beginning, 16-year old Violet Tunis, our narrator, lists 7 goals for her upcoming year, ranging from attainable to somewhat more outlandish. A junior at the prestigious Boston-area Westfield private school for girls, Violet has been inseparable from her best friend Katie Putnam since a school project several years before that began with three days of fighting, the longest time they've gone without speaking since meeting.

At its core, this is a novel about expectations and how we react when faced with change. No particularly unfamiliar ground is broken, but Sales still manages to resolve the story in a way that is realistic without feeling tired. By the end, we find that Violet has made mixed headway in her goals, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Being 24 now, these themes aren't quite what I currently deal with, though at that age this would have been a spot on read for me. Sales does explicitly tell at the end what some of her writing shows just a few pages before, though I guess since this is YA it's not as big of a deal (and it is handled relatively well. Sometimes "the point" is blathered on about in a cloying or heavy-handed way in YA).

So. Though the first third or so may give the impression it's a totally light read, there is definitely more depth that's worth sticking around for. I look forward to whatever Sales writes next (and given her second novel moved off into the world of teen historical re-enactors, looks like there is a well of creativity to mine as well. I just hope she gets better book cover designs next time...).

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