Monday, April 11, 2011

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin

Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
Release Date:  May 3, 2011
Publisher:  Hyperian

As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket. Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen. But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know. -

This was a heartfelt debut novel by Alexa Martin that I really enjoyed.  Charlotte Locke has a learning disability that makes her see numbers strangely in math, even while she excels at other classes.  With a university professor mother, and author father, and near genius-like brother, Charlotte's disability turns her into the "odd man out," so to speak.  Her disability becomes less of a nuisance and more of a brand that stamps her as a failure.

And a failure is how she feels.  It was agonizing to watch this girl and see how she looked at herself.  Internally, she spoke to herself so negatively, and saw herself as so worthless, it was sad to see such internal insecurity.  The author did a superb job, however, not making her sound whiny or self-pitying.  It was, instead, believable insecurity that Charlotte displays unconsciously.  It also explains her fascination with Amanda, who is flamboyant and overly confident.  She is the complete opposite of Charlotte, and it was easy to see why Amanda would draw Charlotte, as if, by extention, Amanda's confidence would rub off on her. 

It was also easy to see how Amanda could end up leading Charlotte into some situations that she never would have picked for herself.  Some of these situations are powerfully raw and pitiful to read.  I wouldn't recommend this book for younger readers, but older teens.

Despite her mistakes, Charlotte begins to find herself, begins to find her own worth, and to realize just which guy is worthy of her.  These were very real characters with real issues.  I loved it.

Alexa Martin proves, with her debut novel, that she is an excellent storyteller who knows how to draw a character.  This was an excellent, powerful story.  I look forward to see more from this author.

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