Hope knows there's only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that's how the universe works, even though it's so completely wrong. Parker doesn't feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they'd never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn't making it any easier. . . . In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls -- and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide. You think you have an enemy. But she's just another girl.
Mini-Review: Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg
A surprisingly serious read for Elizabeth Eulberg, Just Another Girl deals with our perceptions of girls, love triangles, and how much we learn when we try to give people the benefit of the doubt. The narrative switches between Hope, who is in love with her best friend Brady, and Parker, who is currently dating Brady and is in a really bad (but also secret) home situation.
When the book starts, we get a lot of Hope’s perspective, and a lot of her pain at having a ginormous crush on Brady. It’s desperate, and embarrassing, and very, very real. You want to hate Parker, and you want Hope to get the guy.
And then, suddenly, we get Parker’s perspective, and everything changes. It’s not that Hope is being a bad person, or Parker a really good one. In fact, Parker has her own prejudices against Hope. But right away, you see what Eulberg is doing – how she’s trying to show everything behind each character, and how we can’t ever know the real story behind people.
Both Parker and Hope are interesting characters and pretty well rounded, but I did feel like there was almost a heroine-villain thing going on. The POVs were a bit one-sided. That said, I admit to relating quite strongly with both characters, even the one I felt was getting short shrift.
Just Another Girl is definitely unique, because not only does it present unlikeable female characters, it also makes you question their very unlikeability. It’s also unique in that it’s completely transparent in its theme and message – but I somehow still liked it. There isn’t a lot of subtlety to the characters, but because of the themes and the way they’re explored, I appreciated and recognized the importance of this book.
The Final Word:
Elizabeth Eulberg usually writes light contemporary rom-coms. Just Another Girl had some of the humour of her other books, and certainly some of the fun, but it strays into much heavier material. Still I enjoyed the realness of the book, and the Rube Goldberg machine competition was a nice, nerdy touch that Eulberg managed to pull into the themes of the story.
Read this or pass it along to a teen who is dealing with a Mean Girls or girl-shaming situation.
JUST ANOTHER GIRL is out this week. Will you be reading it? How do you feel about unlikeable characters or Mean Girls? Have you ever had thoughts like Hope or Parker about a person – and then realized that person was totally not what you expected? Let me know in the comments!