Secrets of a Fangirl
Except when she's offered a spot in a Nightshade fandom contest, where the winner gets to see the new movie premiere in LA. No one seems to think Sarah Anne can win, since she's up against a pair of guys in high school--but the more she's called a fake fan, the more determined she is to wipe the floor with her competition. As long as none of her friends or anyone at school knows what she's doing.
Can she keep her geek identity a secret, win the contest, and manage to keep her friends even though she's been living a lie? Sarah Anne is going to have to make some choices about what's truly important to her and which rules she's going to break to stay true to herself.
When Sarah wins a contest for the MK Nightshade series, she's entered to win tickets to the premiere of the movie, but she must win a second contest. This contest is full of trials to test to see who really is the biggest fan. As she completes the tasks, they become harder and more public. Sarah finds it more and more difficult to keep the popular girl Sarah Anne and the nerd girl SAM separate. Not to mention that one of her competitors has it our for her and will do anything to win.
As a fellow nerdy girl, I absolutely loved this book. It can be scary when you're so worried about what others will think, but you don't feel like yourself with it hidden. That's the case for Sarah. The MK Nightshade series is a huge part of her life and having to keep it a secret is like denying a part of her. When she gets partnered with nerdy Hugh for a science project, she discovers that he's also a fan of the MK Nightshade series. I love Hugh and it was interesting seeing how hard Sarah worked to keep her secret from everyone. This book is an easy middle grade read that I finished fairly quickly. It held my interest the whole way through.
Final Verdict: SECRETS OF A FANGIRL is a story for all those nerdy girls out there. This book reminds us of the importance of being you, no matter what you like.
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.