Title: What Girls Are Made Of
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Summary: This National Book Award for Young People’s Literature finalist examines the life and choices of an every day teen girl. One day while fourteen-year old Nina Faye was helping her mother fold a sheet, she was “gifted” with the following advice from her mother, “There is no such thing as unconditional love.” That simple premise was to shape how Nina perceived her relationship with her mother, how she interacted with friends, and what kind of treatment she deemed acceptable from a romantic partner for years to come. You see, if love is not unconditional you will do anything to get the boy you love to notice you. And, you will do anything to keep that boy once you have him. And, when you lose that boy to another, it will crush you and you will wonder how you can get by in life.
Arnold’s writing is stunningly honest and the issues of body image, sexuality, family dynamics, and friendship will be relatable to many. That being said, it is definitely written for a mature young adult audience as the handling of the above issues is fairly graphic. It’s also a very sad story and Nina’s choices may be difficult for some readers to appreciate or understand. As an aside, I highly recommend reading the author’s note. It will make you view the story you just read in a whole new light.
Who will like this book? Mature YA readers who like books that deal with gritty, real life situations with all the drama, sadness and loneliness teens sometimes feel.
If you like this, try reading: Speak, Winter Girls, or The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, any book by Ellen Hopkins, and Whale Talk or Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher.
Where can I find a copy: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian