delightful middle grade about embracing yourself
SECRETS OF A FANGIRL is a fun contemporary middle grade about embracing yourself for who you are and what you love. Sarah Anne is one of the popular girls in middle school and a star lacrosse player. Her best friend told her a few years before that she couldn’t like MK Nightshade anymore, so Sarah Anne has created some rules to separate herself from the fandom which she still adores. In fact, she is such a big fan that she has won a contest to be on a panel.
At the panel, Sarah Anne is talked over and around, even though she clearly knows more than the older boys who are also participating. This type of sexism follows her around, even at school, where she has been assigned to work with a guy who does not hide his geeky side and who assumes from the start that she would not be so into science. However, Sarah Anne does a great job of setting him straight.
Sarah Anne is also given an opportunity to compete in a bigger contest to win a trip to see the new MK Nightshade movie. As she competes, it becomes harder to hide her fangirl. At the same time, she is questioning her friends, who are bullying others and filling the true mean, popular group stereotype. The suspense of whether she will win plus whether she will be able to keep it a secret makes the book move quickly.
What I loved: There is a great depiction of the struggle for popularity, embracing yourself, and sexism. Sarah Anne is a strong main character, and her journey is difficult but interesting to follow. There are also some fun tidbits about fandoms and competing that really add something extra to the story.
What left me wanting more: A subtheme of the book is bullying, and this was not really addressed. Sarah Anne doesn’t really get involved, but she witnesses it quite a bit and is uncomfortable about it. I would have loved to see her take action (whether getting adults involved or standing up for the victims) on this, as this is a common problem. However, the presentation does bring attention to the issue.
Final verdict: This is a delightful story about accepting yourself and being who you are, even when it’s not popular. With a clever main character and suspenseful challenges, this fast-paced read is great for fans of contemporary middle grade.