I think Blake Nelson may have just become my favorite author. Every time I read something of his, it’s such a different kind of book from the time before. I think I’ve only read three of his books, but whatever. You know how when you read a book and you feel like you know the author and their views on life and their sense of humor? Well, that doesn’t happen for me with Blake Nelson. It’s like he’s so far into his imagination, there’s only the characters in the book, and not him. I don’t know Nelson, but I doubt very much he was much like fashion-obsessed, groupie Andrea Marr. I also don’t know if this is a superior kind of writing to when the author is all over the pages, or not. I like it both ways, personally. But, I think I respect Nelson for keeping himself secret. Or at least, seeming to.
In this book, Nelson looks into Andrea Marr’s sophomore, junior, and senior year of high school, as she finds her way out of the high school social scene and into the indie rock scene, in Portland, in the 1990s. I finally checked to see the publishing date when reading passages that used the word “tapes” and passages that talked about AIDS and Magic Johnson as if it were current. And there were no cell phones or Internet. The book was published in 1994. Maybe that’s also why it seemed so interesting to me – I graduated high school in 1993. But, when was the last time you read a YA that spanned three years? I was so pleasantly surprised at this. The book read so fast, months passing in a three-sentence paragraph. Most of the scenes seemed like if they were a movie, they’d be in long shots. Except the sex scenes, which were more than I’d ever seen in a single YA book, but all of which seemed relevant and one of which was the best sex scene I’d ever read. I don’t mean for its heat-factor either; Nelson was a genius with the way that he made it not only from a girl’s perspective, but how his character began to understand the world of girls and boys and women and men and sex because of it.
The formatting of the book was block text paragraph run wild with run-on sentences. Almost EVERY sentence started with And, And then, or But. Loved it! I haven’t read a YA book with such authentic sentence styling since how i live now, by Meg Rosoff. I can’t get the main character’s voice from Girl out of my head! Probably this review has run on sentences because of it. I bought the paperback because I like the cover. This cover is perfect for the book. I totally saw this girl as Andrea as I read the book, and she is adorable. The hardback cover looks boring and dark.
One thing that was similar to Paranoid Park was how the ending was a bit of a flip off. That kind of makes no sense, but that’s what it feels like. The book takes its toll on you like it should, and you think you’re coming in for a landing, and you are, but then Nelson’s like, did you think we were landing here? And he flips you off really quick, and that’s the end of the book. It’s not even what I’d call a surprise ending. It’s just a fun jolt. It’s not a complaint from me, either. I like it. And one last thing: the title. I kind of was like, Girl?? Really? I know one-word titles in YA are all the rage but can’t we do better than that? And then I read a scene very close to the end of the book where Andrea is talking to her best friend Cybil for probably the last time, and it made perfect sense! I shouldn’t have doubted the title.