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Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

Girl Wonder

by Alexa Martin

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Every now and then I stumble across a book that I'm completely conflicted about. After finishing Girl Wonder I'm still sitting here trying to rein my thoughts in enough to write a coherent review. See, Charlotte's story makes a lot of sense. I've been the girl in her shoes for a lot of situations, and even if I haven't experienced them all myself, I know that they exist. At the same time it seemed like Charlotte's life caused her to go through every single trial that can happen to a young person. I'll explain more about what I mean below, but it was kind of disorienting.

First off, let me say that the prose with which Alexa Martin writes is stunning! Every page in Girl Wonder comes to life with descriptions, and a lot of times I was able to place myself right beside Charlotte. As a reader who loves to be a part of the story, this really kept me engaged while I was reading. Similarly, the characters are extremely well written and vivid. Each one of them had a personality that shines off the page, and I could feel myself going through the range of emotions that come along with this book. You can trust me when I say that this book will make you feel. It might not always be good, but it will definitely be there.

Now on to Charlotte's story. My main problem with Charlotte specifically was her inability to pull herself out to the "black hole" into which she was falling. Don't misunderstand me. I knew she was hurting, I saw that she was lost, but the simple fact that she wouldn't grab on to any of the lifelines that were being thrown to her was so frustrating to me. I honestly disliked her so much in the middle of the book that I thought about putting it down. I ended up reading on because I hoped, that like most coming of age books, things would start to get better for her. I kept wishing she'd look at the good things she was being given, instead of always being so negative all the time.

I understood that Charlotte was dealing with a lot. She has a learning disability, she isn't in the GATE program like she was supposed to be, she has to move her Senior year, her parents are fighting, the boy she loves is giving her mixed signals, and her so called friend is manipulative. Are you exhausted yet? I was. This only skims the surface of what is going on in Charlotte's life. I'm not denying that there are teens out there who have all this hit them in their teenage years. However this all happens to her in a matter of just one year. My conflicting emotions made me want to hug Charlotte sometimes, and slap her at others for not seeing things that were clearly there. It made this otherwise beautiful book a very tough read for me. It was almost like there was a checklist of things that happen to teens, and Charlotte had to fulfill them all.

I don't mean to imply that this book isn't a great read. It honestly is. As I mentioned above, it does make you feel and the way that Alexa Martin deals with the stigma of learning disabilities is brilliant. I was also very much drawn in by her exploration of what "love" really is. It isn't only Charlotte who is trying to figure that out in this book, and it's beautiful to watch these characters grow and learn. Honestly if it hadn't been for poor Charlotte's insane year of life, I think I would have been a lot more in love with this book. I wanted to yell, "Give the girl a break already!"

I'll end with the simple fact that this is a book about growing up and I understand that. Girl Wonder is an exploration of what it means to be an older teenager who still hasn't figured everything out yet. It is a beautifully written example of the utter hopelessness that comes along with being in this situation. For that I applaud Alexa Martin. Although there were some rough spots for me, I do see the beauty in this book. I believe that if you can in with an open heart and mind, you will too. ( )
  roses7184 | Feb 5, 2019 |
Girl Wonder REALLY impressed me. It’s so rare to find a book in YA that actually addresses the tough issues, like drugs, divorce, sex, etc. A lot of books steer away from the topics and ignore them altogether, but Girl Wonder faced them head on, which was very refreshing.

I thought Girl Wonder was exceptionally realistic. I loved the way the author portrayed Charlotte’s problems with public school and her learning disability. Everything about Charlotte was spot on, I suppose, although I do think she was really rather naive which was slightly annoying. But with everything going on with her parents and debate club and etc – she was a really wonderful protagonist and I really enjoyed being in her head as she grew throughout the book.

I loved all of the secondary characters a lot, too. Her genius brother was hilarious and so was Milton. I loved their characters a lot. I had issues with Amanda, Neal, and Charlotte’s dad, but not with the way they were written, just with who they were and how they behaved, I guess.

Girl Wonder isn’t the book to read if you want to be taken by surprise – a lot of the things that happen throughout the book you can see coming from a mile away. But when it’s actually happening to you, you’re not as quick on the uptake, and that’s definitely seen through Charlotte.

Overall, I definitely recommend picking up a copy of Girl Wonder. It’s refreshingly honest and doesn’t shy away from topics just because they might be tough to talk about. The characters are well developed and the writing is excellent. ( )
  hobbitsies | Nov 18, 2011 |
This book is about so many different things, but mostly it is about life. It is the story of one girl's journey that is very entertaining to read and leaves you with a hopeful, optimistic outlook on life in general (without being cheesy).

Charlotte has always been in the gifted and talented programs at school. She excels at reading and writing... but she is diagnosed with a learning disability when it comes to numbers. When Charlotte switches to Shady Groves school, she is unable to enter her normal gifted programs because of it. Now she has to brave her scary - shady - school, ridiculously easy classes, and living with the weight of the impossible expectations from her father.

Charlotte's education and learning disability may frame the novel, but this isn't just a book about school. Actually, it really isn't about school at all. It is about learning, yes, but learning from life experiences. When Charlotte gets involved with Amanda (A.K.A Girl Wonder), she will fight with everything she has to stay on the "inside". She's hanging out with the "right" group, the untouchably rich and popular.... but maybe the "right" group is more wrong. Charlotte finds herself experimenting with drugs, sex and debate team? She's kind of confused about it too. Bottom line, this story is a wonderful ride that you don't want to miss.

I was not expecting this book to be so touching, endearing, sad and funny. It had so many different levels of depth that I would have ever pegged it for. It deals with tough issues such as family drama, first love, drugs, parental pressure, failure, learning disabilities and much more. This novel is just really filled with life. The worlds are so full of life that the story is consuming. From someone who loves science fiction and fantasy, a finding a great contemporary is a big deal. I would recommend this novel without a second thought. Read it. ( )
  ilikethesebooks | Sep 3, 2011 |
Summary: Charlotte has just transferred into public school—something she’s never experienced before. After failing to make any friends, she meets Amanda, a girl with more confidence than Charlotte’s ever seen before, and Neal, a gorgeous boy with an enticing personality. Amanda and Neal aren’t the greatest influence on good-girl Charlotte, but Charlotte’s ready to get out of her comfort zone. Things start to go downhill when Charlotte starts neglecting her schoolwork and aspirations to hang out with her new friends, though. And do Amanda and Neal really care about Charlotte as much as she cares about them?

My thoughts: Girl Wonder is a startlingly honest tale about how easy it is to get caught up in the sunshine of people more confident and popular than you. Charlotte quickly loses sight of herself and begins to become something she’s not—a topic that sounds familiar but truly shines in Girl Wonder. Alexa Martin holds no punches when getting to the more controversial aspects of being a teen—sex, drugs, power—but still manages to come off as polished and objective.

Girl Wonder is a very character-driven novel. Charlotte’s decisions and thought processes make the book what it is. If we hadn’t been inside Charlotte’s head, I would have been baffled as to how a person could possible dig herself into such a deep hole. But because of the excellent narration, Charlotte’s 180 made sense, and we even come to sympathize with her.

Themes and morals aside, Girl Wonder is an incredibly entertaining story. Charlotte’s endeavors were fun to read about, and I found myself experiencing a roller coaster of emotions throughout the whole book. I was disgusted at certain aspects and giddy at others. Books that are an experience—that make you feel as if you’re part of the story—are the best kinds of books, and Girl Wonder certainly fits that bill.

If you’re looking for a solid contemporary read, give Girl Wonder a try! ( )
  renkellym | Jun 2, 2011 |
You might laugh at me, but when I read the prologue I had the irrational fear that we had another choker on our hands and it almost made me want to hide under the bed. I didn't want another hair-raising thriller, but I'll lay all worries to rest because Girl Wonder is not that sort of book! No creepy best friend, but it does have a girl who definitely has to look up the definition of "best friend" because she is failing that role miserably.

Charlotte reminded me a lot of me in high school - wowed by the pink-haired girls who dared to break conformity, tongue-tied in über-hot boys who are waaaay out of my league, and awkward and unsure of her own level of awesomeness. The difference, however, is Charlotte gets the opportunity to rub elbows with said pink-haired girl Amanda and über-hot boy Neal - and she does so at extreme risk of losing her soul.

Yes, it's that extreme. Metaphorically. Because, dear Readers, Girl Wonder has no soul-losing magic involved. It runs on pure real-life predicaments.

I was surprised at how far from the tree Charlotte fell - and how high she jumped for Amanda and Neal without really considering the consequences. Joining debate club is a nice addition to the college application, but shoplifting and having sex with a boy who wants to keep your relationship a secret seem like questionable extracurricular activities. When Amanda and Neal finally show their true colors, it was a huge relief to watch Charlotte start to shed all that negativity and become her own self.

Girl Wonder is a breath of fresh air that will find a home with readers who like a little bite with their dose of reality. Alexa Martin makes a remarkable debut that doesn't quite focus on ever-popular popularity politics, but instead the dangers of making the wrong sort of friends and crushing on the wrong sort of boy. It asks the hard question of "how high is too high?" and presents an answer that will have readers think hard about their current friendships. ( )
  theepicrat | May 28, 2011 |
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After being turned away from her new school's gifted and talented program, Charlotte, a Washington State high school senior begins to lose her self-confidence when she befriends a charismatic and brilliant student who offers her popularity at the cost of her self-esteem.… (more)

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