A Feminist Joins a Frat!
College life is rarely (if ever) simple, and in Kiley Roache's FRAT GIRL, Cassie Davis makes things even harder on herself by tying her full-ride scholarship to an elite school to a controversial secret research project: Cassie becomes a pledge at a fraternity, and she documents everything that happens over the course of her first year there in an effort to expose the misogynistic behavior she expects to find. And she doesn't choose just any frat. Cassie is determined to join Delta Tau Chi as a legacy (her dad was a DTC), and it's a fraternity that is on probation specifically for its treatment of women.
The premise of FRAT GIRL had me at the get-go, and I loved Cassie's voice from its opening pages, too. Cassie is a girl who is desperate to break free of her strict, middle class, Midwestern, Catholic school upbringing (and the expectations that come with it), and she wants to find freedom in the form of an expensive California college education. It's a bonus that her school of choice is home to one of her feminist heroes (who is also the faculty advisor on Cassie's research project).
FRAT GIRL could have been trite. Cassie could have been a walking talking feminist cliché. Thank goodness author Kiley Roache wrote Cassie as a nuanced, sympathetic, strong, and awesome character. Although the ancillary characters in the book could have used some more depth, Cassie and the story line carry the day along with the teaching moments that spring up throughout the novel. FRAT GIRL manages seminars on feminist theory and female sexuality while also discussing the difficulties of being part of a complex social movement. The book also offers a good portrayal of college life in general, though I can't speak to its accuracy when it come to being in a fraternity or a sorority since I've never been involved in either (outside of attending parties, of course). The inevitable romance is also well done, although a little too perfect.
I really enjoyed this book, and I'm passing FRAT GIRL on to my feminist teen daughter because I want her to read it as a springboard to discussions on all of the issues that arise through the course of Cassie's story. I highly recommend the book to parents and teens headed into college, but it's also an entertaining read to darn near anyone.
My thanks to YA Books Central and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
A smart and likeable main character