One of the joys of following the Female Girl Bloggers G+ group, and being a chair member of the Geek Girl Brunch Twin Cities, is discovering the creations of other geekly ladies out there. Today I’m happy to help introduce the world to the up-and-coming author Paige Lavoie. Two days ago she debuted her novel Confidence: The Diary of an Invisible Girl.
Prior to the launch of the book I contacted her to see if I could get an early copy to write a review. I’m so glad I did! After the first few pages I was hooked. Not only do Barb and teenage me share a passion for Code Red Mountain Dew, we both also had only generic soda at home. This book has taken me back to my awkward adolescence, from the “are they aren’t they” romances, haphazard attempts at social navigation, love triangles, and burgeoning lifelong passions.
Sneak a peak at Barb’s diary with me as I break it down using the Her Story Arc Scale of Inclusivity:
Not offensive to women = 1 pt*
Easily passed. I did not find myself physically or emotionally uncomfortable by how the women characters were speaking, acting, or portrayed in this book. I was engaged by, and impressed by, the women characters.
Features a woman as the main protagonist and/or supporting character = 2 pts
The entire book is from the point of view of Barbara Jenkins (named after Barbara Gordon). Barb lives with her mom and has several girls who are friends, including Cassie, Bette, and Eloise.
Passes the Bechdel test = 3 pts
Again, passes easily. Barb frequently talks about her drawings, school, and various nerdery with her friends and her mother.
Artistic and/or Entertaining = 4 pts
Very. The pages of Barb’s diary could have easily been ripped out of the many diaries I tried and failed to keep throughout my teen years. The voice, tone, emotion, and social interactions are not just authentic, they are nostalgia-inducing. Barb goes with the flow, like so many of us did in high school, all the while gaining confidence to be who she really is, and say what she really thinks.
I didn’t just exhale air quickly or internally LOL at this book. I actually laughed out loud. Sometimes I laughed because of butts. Sometimes I laughed because of cat dating website references (it really is a thing!). I even read pieces of dialogue to my fiance (who, like myself, is a writer) so he could also appreciate the humor.
Beyond just being funny, Paige has captured the essence of teenage experience. I sighed painfully as Barb magically turned a normal situation into an uncomfortably awkward one (think Michael from the Office). And, of course, I squeed (adult translation: squealed) due to the successful completion of a step toward romance!
Here is a sampling of my favorite lines~
On getting a makeover:
She said she doesn’t mind my writing as long as I don’t move too much, which is understandable since she’s running a flat iron through my hair right now. These things are serious weapons. Why don’t girls get more cred for wheeling them around?
On convention going:
Sure, it had its downsides, like the crazy ridiculous crowds, the overwhelming pockets of BO smell, and a couple of super- pervy guys. But there was something about being surrounded by so much geekery at once that made me feel like I was a part of something bigger. Everyone there was celebrating things they loved, and we seemed to be united in one goal: having the best darn Friday of the year.
While cheering up a friend:
Frazzled, Mr. Lang walked slowly toward the freezer and, very carefully, placed a tub of cherry-chip ice cream in front of us as a peace offering. He then backed away like he’d placed a steak in front of a pride of wild lions.
It was hard for me to choose these lines out of the dozens I highlighted with my Kindle App, but you get the idea. 🙂
Above and Beyond General Media = 3 pts
This is a hard category for me to answer, not because the book isn’t fantastic, but because I have not read any other modern YA Fiction (only fantasy/dystopian YA). Being unable to compare this book to it’s peers, I will go with my gut and give it a 3 out of 5 points in this category. We can read between the lines of Barb’s observations and problems to discover a fully fleshed out world underneath. While a fairly typical teenage experience, the book does delve into some hot social issues.
For example, there is a very endearing scene in which Barb is momentarily confused by Bette’s two fathers, mistaking one of them as a family chef. Barb stumbles out a blunt sentence once she realizes her mistake, causing herself much embarrassment, but which Bette and her dads playfully laugh off.
Another example is in the character arc of Bette. Bette is the epitome of a “mean girl” until her big secret is revealed. Not only does this revealed secret change her relationship with Barb, it also alters Barb’s perception of a certain corner of misunderstood geekdom. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I will link to this article as a hint for those of you who (like myself) like to burn your marshmallows (i.e. read spoilers).
All in all, “Confidence: the Diary of an Invisible Girl” earns a solid 13/15 points. Not too shabby!
Checkout Paige’s cute release video below:
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*This is a category that could get very complicated, very quickly, if we tried to list everything that could be offensive to women. Instead, we use this category as a way of showing our own personal reaction to whatever we are reviewing. All contributors to this site are women and can speak from a woman’s perspective. However, no woman can speak for all women so we do our best to explain our choice one way or the other. We encourage all readers to share their opinions in the comments of every post if they want to express agreement or disagreement with our rankings.