readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Featured Title: NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, by Siobhan Vivian

Hey readergirlz: 
It's April, which means we're talking Self-respect on the blog! 
Today we're celebrating Siobhan Vivian's third novel, Not That Kind of Girl, about which Booklist says, 
“It’s rare to see second- and third-wave feminism square off in YA literature so successfully; don’t miss this round.” I heartily concur! I loved how the characters in the novel all grapple with their own notions of feminism and girl power, and how Natalie, the protagonist, reconciles her own conflicted views of sexuality. 

Welcome, Siobhan! 

First off, I am so honored that Not That Kind of Girl has been chosen for Self-Respect month at Readergirlz! Thank you thank you thank you!

With Not That Kind of Girl, the idea of self-respect was always in the forefront of my mind. And I was really interested in exploring the link between self-respect and the way other people judge you. Can you respect yourself when others don’t? It’s a really interesting question, especially when you throw sex in the mix, because everyone has an opinion on what you should and shouldn’t do. Ultimately though, the way you handle yourself is a personal choice, and only you will know what’s a right decision for you.

My personal goal in writing this book was to respect all girls…from the ones who take cell-phone pictures of themselves and send them to boys to the girls who want to stay virgins until they are married. I also wanted to explore the idea that bad choices and mistakes don’t always equal a lack of self-respect.
I think it scares some people to look at sex as a learning process, where you will inevitably make mistakes and (hopefully) learn from them. The things you do, and don’t do, will help you better understand yourself and make you a wiser girl in relationships moving forward.

One thing I really wanted to impress upon my readers is that making a “mistake” doesn’t mean that you are a bad person and are not deserving of respect. I think we, as a culture, are so quick to judge. We expect girls to be perfect, to never make mistakes, to always be smart and rational and make the right decisions. I’m sorry, but that’s just not possible!

The only person you are accountable to is yourself. The only opinion that matters is your own. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t reflect on the decisions you make, and allow other people to influence you, but at the end of the day, if you are okay with the kind of person you are, that’s what matters most. 

Thank you so much, Siobhan, for your thoughtful post and your incredibly thoughtful, nuanced book! 

Tell us, readergirlz - what does self-respect mean to you


Little Willow said...

Siobhan rocks! :)

Micol Ostow said...

She TOTALLY rocks! And I really loved this book. Such a perfect rgz pick.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I think she handled the issue of self-respect super well. A great rgz pick, postergirlz!

tammara said...

This was an incredible novel, and the ideas the author strove to include felt so unique. It took me years to break free of the notion that as a girl/woman you are supposed to avoid sexual "mistakes" at all cost -- when in every other part of life so-called "mistakes" are known to be how we LEARN! I loved this book for how well-illustrated the casting off of that outdated and harmful notion is for girls. Natalie is one of my favorite protagonists ever. When you finish reading, you feel as though you know her, and/or you are/were her. Loved it.

Micol Ostow said...

Thank you, Tammara! Well-said. :)

Melissa Walker said...

Totally agree, Tammara. This book is so smart and well done!

adelegriffin said...

Really enjoyed Siobhan's post. It's a thoughtful theme, for sure-- of how we make mistakes and then how we recover and rebuild from them. In YA (both lit and life) experiences are so new and raw, and a youthful psyches can be fragile. This book sounds extremely nuanced and sensitive. Better add it to my Everest stack on the bedside table. (hooray for pending week off in FL! read, read, read and sun.)

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