The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin, Texas. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style and persona she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and designer heels aren’t compatible with digging for fossils. But nothing is going to dampen her spirit. She’s exactly where she wants to be, and gets to work with her hero, the host of the most popular paleontology podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase, the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch. It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths. Until it isn’t. When Natalie’s paleontologist hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, she has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by men. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying the rules and risking her life for the sake of a major discovery. While sifting through dirt, she finds more than fossils―she finds out that she is truly awesome.
MAMMOTH by Jill Baguchinsky features a month in the life of Natalie Page, a high school student and the author of the Fossilista, a fashion blog that also focuses on paleontology. Natalie has been selected for a spot in a highly competitive summer internship working at a dig site near Austin, and MAMMOTH opens as she starts her trip to Texas.
As a plus-size teen who was bullied throughout grade school and junior high, Natalie reinvented herself the summer before her freshman year. As part of that transformation, she has adopted a fake-it-til-you-make-it philosophy. Her mantra is "Be Awesome," and she presents herself as a confident and assertive young woman who isn't self-conscious about her weight--and in fact, followers of her blog would say that she embraces her curves, and she showcases them with a signature style. Despite outward appearances, though, Natalie is full of doubt and insecurities.
Natalie's internship is only four weeks, but in that time she experiences romance, jealousy, new friendships, and betrayal ... and she makes a LOT of really bad choices. The story moves quickly with plenty of action, and I can't stress enough how awesome it is to read a book about a geeky, fashionable, science-loving girl who wears a size 20 and is more amazing than she realizes. I wish Natalie's supporting cast had been worthy of her, and some of the risks that Natalie takes seem way out of character, but this book is full of charm, and its positive message helps carry the day. I definitely recommend it to lovers of contemporary YA.
Girls in STEM!