What Girls Are Made Of

Elana K. Arnold

Carolrhoda LAB

April 2017

$27.99 AU

200p hc

ISBN: 978-1512410242

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What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold tells the story of Nina Faye, a sixteen-year-old girl who believes there is no such thing as unconditional love. When her uncaring, crummy boyfriend, whom she would have done anything for, breaks up with her, Nina feels lost. She aims to rediscover what love truly is, reflecting on past experiences and her current life to find out if love really can be unconditional after all.

The story is heavily focused on teenage issues as well as other societal issues addressed from Nina’s point of view, such as abortion, pre-marital sex, and the place of women in relationships. The book would easily be classified as a young adult book.

What Girls Are Made Of is definitely not a fun, light read for when you want a laugh. For me I felt it was written in a way that is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable and somewhat disgusted at times by the level of detail in some scenes, the main issues are addressed in a brutally honest manner; however, I think the depth of the commentary was lacking and not always addressed to the full extent that it could have been. For example, early on Nina falls pregnant and immediately seeks an abortion. Without speaking to her mother or the father of the baby, the whole episode is over very quickly, without realistically highlighting how she would have felt. While it is a controversial topic, there are psychological implications of what she experienced that were left out completely that would have given the story an extra level of depth on those disputed, sensitive topics.

The book, while simple to read in terms of language, felt somewhat rigid and not fluid as the story progressed. To me, the different parts had little crossover thematically and plot-wise, leading to an anti-climatic end. I would still recommend this book for 16-year-old girls or older who want to be challenged with potentially uncomfortable situations and issues.

Yvette, age 15

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