Trigger warning: Abuse, self-harm, bulimia
Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
I think this book did a very good job of showcasing how domestic violence can occur with teens. The last time I recall having a big discussion about this was when that Lifeftime movie starring Fred Savage and Candace Cameron called "No One Would Tell" that followed a young couple in love, but the boy in questions starts abusing the girlfriend. That movie showed how many people knew what was going on and how more people should speak up when they suspect someone they love is being abused. That said, the book's switching POVs among several teen girls was distracting and caused me to not engage as much as I should have while reading. Everything is eventually revealed, but I felt myself slightly annoyed because this book really didn't need a gimmick.
"What Kind of Girl" shows the different people who are linked together after one of the most popular boys at North Bay Academy, Mike Parker, is accused by his girlfriend of him hitting her. The book follows different teen girls in this one with them only being identified as "the girlfriend," "the popular girl," "the bulimic," and "the pothead." Eventually the author reveals who is who in this one.
I didn't get a very good sense of the male in this story, Mike Parker. He's obviously abusive, but the book chooses (rightfully so) to focus on the teen girls in this story and the widening sides at the school with those who don't believe Mike hit his girlfriend and those that do. The girlfriend chapters were the best in my mind. That said, I just got tired of jumping around after a while. When the book reveals who is who though it was much easier to read in my opinion. It just felt very gimmicky and I don't think the book needed that, that's the main reason I gave this book three stars. The book also starts to read as repetitive after a while. When Sheinmel reveals who the girls are in the book things become clearer, but I think that could have been dealt with better earlier. I can see this turning off some readers after a while with them not wanting to wade through all of this.
The setting of this book is North Bay Academy. Through the multiple POVs you get the sense the school is diverse, but also has a lot of wealthy classmates mixed in with many people, the principal included, shocked that Mike could hit anyone. And of course there are a lot of people questioning why "the girlfriend" put up with it then. I thought this book tackled a lot of strong subject matter well, and others a little rushed. I think it was good though that we have a young adult book talking about abuse between younger people. I think the last young adult book that did that I read was Sarah Dessen's "Dreamland."
The ending was okay, the book really didn't grab me much except when I was trying to work out the connection between all of the girls in this one.