Title: Rules for Being a Girl
Author: Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Pub Date: April 7, 2020
It starts before you can even remember: You learn the rules for being a girl. . . .
Marin has always been good at navigating these unspoken guidelines. A star student and editor of the school paper, she dreams of getting into Brown University. Marin’s future seems bright―and her young, charismatic English teacher, Mr. Beckett, is always quick to admire her writing and talk books with her.
But when “Bex” takes things too far and comes on to Marin, she’s shocked and horrified. Had she somehow led him on? Was it her fault?
When Marin works up the courage to tell the administration what happened, no one believes her. She’s forced to face Bex in class every day. Except now, he has an ax to grind.
But Marin isn’t about to back down. She uses the school newspaper to fight back and she starts a feminist book club at school. She finds allies in the most unexpected people, like “slutty” Gray Kendall, who she’d always dismissed as just another lacrosse bro. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and write her own rules.
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Take two of my favorite authors, team them up for a novel together and what do you get? An amazing, thought provoking, rage inducing book, that’s what! Add the cherry on top that our main character is a student journalist, and they’ve created the perfect novel for me. It’s like they’ve written a cooler version of me from high school.
Rules for Being a Girl touches on all of the things that bothered me about the school system when I was in high school. Sexist dress codes, incompetent school officials, double standards, etc. Marin is a bright young girl, with dreams of going to Brown University upon graduation.
Things get challenging for Marin when her favorite teacher, the one most of the female students have a crush on, Bex, kisses Marin. Granted, some sketchy things happened leading up to this, i.e. Marin lets Bex drive her home, Marin hangs out with Bex at a coffee shop, but all of that aside, Marin is clearly not okay with what happened. Bex lets it go, but starts being extremely antagonistic towards Marin, causing a whole lot of drama at school.
The rage Marin feels at being treated this way causes her to see many things in a new light, including how all of the school’s reading list is written by men. She starts a feminist book club, and is surprised by some of the people who join—and by those who don’t.
Rules for Being a Girl is absolutely one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. Marin goes through many challenges and has a lot of ups and downs, which she doesn’t always handle gracefully. Her emotions and actions feel authentic, and she will not sit by while people tell her how a girl should behave. I give it 5/5 stars.