Review: Girl Wonder
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.