How to be a Girl in the World

Featured
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
316 0
How to be a Girl in the World
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
August 11, 2020
ISBN
978-0062672704
Buy This Book
      
Lydia hasn’t felt comfortable in her own skin since the boys at her school started commenting on the way she looks in her uniform. Her cousin and friends think she should be flattered, but the boys—and sometimes her mom’s boyfriend, Jeremy—make Lydia uncomfortable and confused. Even more confusing is when Jeremy hovers too close and hugs a little too long.

Then her mom surprises her by buying a dilapidated house in their neighborhood. Lydia hopes to find a little bit of magic in their new home. But just like the adults in her life, and God, and her friends, the magic Lydia deeply believes in eventually loses its power to keep her safe.

And as seventh grade begins, Lydia wonders: Is there a secret to figuring out how to be a girl in the world?

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Timely Family Problems
(Updated: May 13, 2020)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Lydia lives in an apartment in New York with her mom and her cousin, Emma. Emma's mother, who was African-American, passed away and her father, who is white, is considered "unsafe", so Emma feels that this is just a temporary placement. Lydia's dad lives nearby and has visitation two days a week, and her mother has a boyfriend, Jeremy. When the mother buys a dilapidated house to fix up, she doesn't tell Jeremy about it. Lydia finds the house deliciously creepy, and does a lot of work on it to help her mother out, but Emma doesn't help because she claims she will never have to live there. The house is just a few blocks from the apartment, so the girls can continue on at their Catholic school. This, however, is a problem for Lydia. In 6th grade, the boys started calling her "Swing" because of the way her skirts moves over her legs, and have subjected her to pointed stares and unwanted comments. The teachers don't take any of her concerns seriously. Lydia also feels uncomfortable around Jeremy,who hugs a second too long, brings the girls candy they are supposed to keep secret from the mother, and generally makes Lydia feel creeped out. To deal with both of these issues, she has taken to wearing baggy sweatpants and shirts even though it is summer vacation. Once, when Emma and her mother go to visit Emma's father, Lydia is supposed to stay with Jeremy. Her father is too busy to watch her, so she calls Miriam, a former best friend with whom she has had a falling out. Miriam invites Lydia over for a sleep over, and the two slowly reconnect. While renovating the house, Lydia finds a "spell book" and empty toilet paper rolls in every room of the house. The writer of the book, Pan, details a number of spells, including one for protection, that involve flowers, scented oils, and wearing the toilet roll under ones clothing. Lydia is sure that this is working, but still panics from time to time. When a boy at school snaps her bra strap, Lydia snaps as well, screaming in the middle of class. She's sent to the principal's office and hopes that her complaints will finally be heard, but instead, the nun accuses Lydia of bringing the devil and magic into the school, because of the toilet paper rolls. Lydia gets in trouble at home, and this, along with support from Miriam and Emma, is finally enough to get her to tell her mother about what is going on at school and with Jeremy.
Good Points
Like Dee's Maybe He Just Likes You, this is realistically done. Lydia's experiences of being harassed, sharing limited information with adults, being rebuffed, and then spiraling into a very bad place make sense. Jeremy is creepy but doesn't actually step over any real lines until the end of the story, and Emma feels the same way. Once the mother finds out about both issues, she supports Lydia completely. Emma's father is in rehab for drugs, and her emotions about not wanting to become invested in the house ring true. The house itself is quirkily interesting, and the protective spells will certainly speak to readers who are Lydia's age.

I was a little surprised that the mother hadn't picked up on Lydia's plight earlier, since she later shares that she was accosted by a relative when young, and surprised that the school didn't take things more seriously. I also would have like a bit more information about the principal's family connection to Lydia's house.

Books like this are important to show them that they need to do this in order for things to change. Lydia's experiences will help readers understand how insidious harrassment can be, but also give them tools to help in case they ever experience it themselves. It's sad that these issues still exist, but they do. Even twenty years ago, I told my daughters that no one was allowed to make them feel uncomfortable and that I would support them if anyone did; this kind of empowerment needs to filter into every section of the population, and books like this can help that happen.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

shine your icy crown
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
“Make them rue the day they underestimated you.” ...
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel comes the...
Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Discover the incredible story of a young daughter of immigrants...
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this is...
Paris Cat
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
A sassy cat from the back alleys of Paris believes...
The Last Hazelnut
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When two woodland friends have a misunderstanding over who ate...
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw the...
Rescue
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Six hundred and fifty-seven days ago, Meg Kenyon's father left...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
“We are most courageous at our weakest; when we believe...
The Night Walk
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Mama opened our bedroom door. "Wake up, you two," she...
My Very Merry Ugly Christmas Sweater
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrate the perfect, ugly expression of holiday cheer in this...
You and Me
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This sweet celebration of love is perfect for sharing with...

Latest Member Reviews

Rescue
 
5.0
"What worked: Engaging historical set during WWII. What interested me the most of this novel is how codes were used..."
Paris Cat
 
3.0
"PARIS CAT is an imaginative picture book about a cat that lives in an alleyway of Paris but dreams of..."
The Last Hazelnut
 
5.0
"THE LAST HAZELNUT is a sweet picture book about friendship, forgiveness, and sharing. Tim and Teo are best friends, and..."
The Night Walk
 
4.5
"THE NIGHT WALK takes the reader on a walk at night through the village and into the wilderness. Parents wake..."
My Very Merry Ugly Christmas Sweater
 
5.0
"MY VERY MERRY UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER is a fun touch-and-feel book that captures all the fun of Christmas attire. The..."
You and Me
 
5.0
"YOU AND ME is a sweet book about love between caregiver and child. The lyrical poetry of the rhyming text,..."
Baby's First Farm
 
4.5
"BABY'S FIRST FARM takes readers on a delightful lift-the-flap journey around the farm. The board book is a simple story..."
Can I Come Too?
 
4.0
"CAN I COME TOO? tells the story of a small mouse who decides to go on a big adventure to..."
Karma Moon: Ghost Hunter
 
3.0
"Karma Moon loves living with her dad in their New York neighborhood, answering phone calls for his Totally Rad documentary..."
Beetle and the Hollowbones
 
5.0
"Beetle is a goblin-witch who isn't loving the small magic her grandmother teaches her. She'd rather hang out with Blob..."
Brenda is a Sheep
 
3.5
"BRENDA IS A SHEEP is a silly book about friendship and acceptance. Brenda is a sheep (actually a wolf in..."
The Kiosk
 
3.0
"THE KIOSK is a picture book about a woman who is stuck inside her kiosk. Every day, she helps people..."
The Good Song: A Story Inspired by "Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World"
 
4.0
"THE GOOD SONG is a book about grief and finding beauty in the world around you. A little boy grows..."
Now You See Me, Now You Don't
 
3.5
"NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON'T is ultimately a book about kindness and camouflage. Chameleon loves his ability to..."
The Cows on the Bus
 
5.0
"THE COWS ON THE BUS is a fantastically fun singing book that takes the tune of "The Wheels on the..."
Pablo
 
4.0
"PABLO is a simple but cute story about a chick that is not ready to hatch. It is time for..."
Shoe Wars
 
4.0
"SHOE WARS is a silly fun middle grade read that is somewhere between a graphic novel and chapter book. The..."
Spin with Me
 
4.0
"SPIN WITH ME is a heartfelt middle grade contemporary about labels and love. Essie has been moved across the country..."
New Shoes, Red Shoes
 
3.5
"NEW SHOES, RED SHOES is a cute and simple book about shoes. The illustrations feature a young boy going out..."
Elevator Bird
 
5.0
"ELEVATOR BIRD is a cute picture book about making your friends' dreams come true. Elevator Bird is an essential part..."