Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett
I originally picked up this book (metaphorically speaking) because of the fun premise: a reversal of roles with the bad girl setting out to corrupt the good boy. I expected a fun read, but what Bennett delivers is so much more than that. It's an honest portrayal of a wounded girl finally making peace with herself and her past.
Jen is a product of the foster system. After a huge disappointment with a family she truly loved, she shuts herself off emotionally. As she bounces around from home to home—some good and others horrible—she becomes the typical rebel teen to protect her heart from future hurt.
The story is fairly predictable, but that's not what makes this book shine. It doesn't need plot twists to pull readers in. It's the startlingly honest portrayal of Jen, her wounds and struggles, that tugs at you. I even cried at one point, which hasn't happened with any book in recent years. It wasn't tragedy that struck me to the point of tears, either, but the emotional honesty that leads Jen to truly find herself.
That said, there is plenty of fun, especially if you're a closet nerd like me. You could think of it as a mild, teenage Big Bang Theory. I whole-heartedly recommend Geek Girl to teens—male and female—as well as adults. The struggle to find oneself is universal, regardless of background or age, and Jen's journey is beautifully told.
Cool fact: Bennett originally self-published Geek Girl before it attracted the attention of a publisher. It proves, in part, that a well-told, self-published story can find success.
Note: The publisher, Cedar Fort, is a smaller independent press in Utah that in the past has focused on Mormon fiction and nonfiction. It looks like they're branching out into mainstream with books like Geek Girl, which doesn't reference religion at all. Plenty of their other books do revolve around Mormon culture, such as The Next Door Boys (review to come). It's not good or bad; just something to note when selecting future reads from this publisher.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.