The IT Girl by Katy Birchall
This is more MG than YA though, as I really liked Geek Girl, and as it’s quite similar in themes, I wanted to read it anyway and now, I’ve decided to review it.
Everybody wants to be a famous It Girl. Don’t they?
Anna Huntley’s aims in life:
1) Must keep my two lovely new (and only) school friends by not doing anything in usual manner of socially inept dork and outcast.
2) Train Dog (my labrador) to high-five. This is probably the most ambitious life goal on this list.
3) Do not set the school’s Deputy Queen Bee mean girl’s hair on fire (again).
4) Work out whether 2) and 3) constitute being socially inept or outcastish.
5) Go to Africa and give out rice.
6) To hide in a cupboard FOR LIFE with Dog now Dad is engaged to one of the most famous actresses EVER, the paparazzi want to spash my face all over the papers and everyone in school (and The World) is soon to discover the level of my social ineptitude.
7) Is rice a bit done now? Maybe I can give out chocolate in Africa too. I do like chocolate. Must work out how to do it from the cupboard…
Anna is funny; that goes without question. They are some real laugh-out-loud moments in the story but though I tried not to, I couldn’t help comparing The IT Girl to Geek Girl. Holly Smale really nails Harriet and the whole model-misfit/geek angle so when Anna bursts onto the scene, and though she’s funny in her own way, Geek Girl had me laughing on the tube, getting stared down by strangers.
I think the obstacles and ultimate redemptive moment were too close together and Anna is incredibly naïve for a fifteen-year-old. I can get over her broom-closet habits but when it boils down to it, I don’t think Birchall has completely sold me on Anna. There should have been more groundwork from the beginning if she was going to go down the I-don’t-want-to-be-a-geek-and-embarrass-my-friends-anymore angle. The humour conceals a lot of this but Anna is a problematic character.
Jess and Danny are perfect as her friends. Jess is defiant and brave and doesn’t really give a crap what anyone thinks about her and Danny is, well, Danny. Can I say that? I’m saying it anyway. Unlike Smale’s Alexa, Birchall creates a Queen Bee who might not be all bad. Helena and Marianne enter the story at just the right time and having Helena and Anna’s mum carry this strange, weird friendship through the second half of the story is comedy gold.
The use of voicemails and emails really anchors the story in the present without it feeling unnecessary. The setting is distinctly British. Scenic details are infused with humour and fused to the story.
I think younger teens will love this, relate to Anna (maybe not about hiding in cupboards) and laugh along the way.