fiction dominates the YA market right now, but many authors are
writing great YA stories that could actually happen to a modern
teenager. Today, I want to take a break from totalitarian regimes and
time travel and talk about a contemporary YA book that I recently
read and enjoyed: Kristen Chandler's Girls
Myra Morgan thought life was going well. She had a popular and
charming boyfriend, plans to attend dental hygiene school after
college, and a penchant for creating order in her life. But when her
boyfriend dumps her and her sister's medical expenses for an
unplanned pregnancy claim the money Myra's parents had saved for her
schooling, Myra realizes she needs to create a new path for herself.
decides to compete against her ex-boyfriend for a scholarship to
study in the Galapagos Islands, at first to escape her current
depressing situation. However, as she works on her proposal and
raises the money to apply, she discovers her own talents, passions,
first, this book felt like a standard “girl gets dumped and
reinvents herself” book. What set it apart from other
self-discovery books is the lack of selfishness typical of the genre.
Rather than cutting ties with the people that limit her and focusing
entirely on herself, Myra's path to self-discovery eventually
includes her dysfunctional family.
family takes her sacrifices for granted, demands too much from her,
and always puts her needs last. But Myra recognizes that her family
does loves her and makes plenty of sacrifices of their own. She
chooses to continue to sacrifice for her family and grow within it,
instead of outside of it. When the stakes are high, she puts her
family above herself, and through doing so, her family comes to truly
understand and value her.
also like that Myra develops into a stronger version of who she
already is, rather than leaving all her liabilities behind. Myra
loves order and control, and I expected part of her reinvention to
involve embracing messiness.
there are notable exceptions where she puts those feelings aside for
the greater good, she learns to use her attention to detail and
ability to calm chaos to open doors and save the day. She also
maintains her willingness to help others, but finds a way to pursue
her own interests in the process. Rather than leaving these parts of
herself behind, she finds a way to integrate them more successfully
into her life.
enjoyed the way Chandler incorporated scientific themes into her plot
development. We see evolutionary concepts in Myra's development, and
Chandler frames the subject matter of each chapter around behaviors
of the birds Myra studies for her proposal. I appreciated Chandler's
ability to use these concepts creatively without twisting her story
to fit the frame.
is a great coming of age story. Myra learns to accept love without
being dependent on it, help her family while still helping herself,
and sacrifice to follow her passions.
this book if …
been dumped and need to be reminded life gets better, but listening
to Britney Spears' “Stronger” on repeat isn't your style.
need to take your life in a new direction, but you want the people
who depend on you to be part of that journey.
You like examples of women succeeding in the sciences.
Erin Cowles is a mother of two, living in the Washington D.C. suburbs. Before motherhood, she
used her masters in library and information science in a law firm library. Now she uses it to find
good books for her family at her local public library. During women's history month, she profiles
Mormon women that inspire her at ldswomenshistory.blogspot.com. She loves reading, sleeping,
and the great outdoors.
Erin serves as Primary pianist and as the choir director in her ward.