Young Adult – Babe in Boyland

At first Natalie is devastated when her formerly popular Ask Aphrodite high school advice column is bombarded with negative email from boys accusing her of just writing what girls want to hear without understanding how boys think at all. Then she realizes they are right: she has no idea how the male mind works. Asking boys the big questions is no help: they either get defensive and clam up or tell her what they think she wants to hear. As part of a madcap scheme to win a journalism award, Natalie manages to weasel her way into an all-boy’s boarding school for a week – disguised as a boy.

This was silly and cheesy and filled with as many surprises as your typical peanut butter sandwich, but it was also fun. Did I for a moment believe that Nat and her friends could have gotten away with this? No. But I still enjoyed going along for the ride.

The characters were all stock pieces: the genius that has no social skills, the jerky jock, the callous rival, the incredibly hot kid from a tough background that is “unexpectedly” sensitive and sweet. The only character that truly felt realistic was the drama teacher who tries awkwardly to have a heart to heart with the disguised Nat, believing him to be gay. (And I’m not sure why more people did not come to this conclusion. I think it would have made for a more interesting book that could have explored more than just the trite “boys are more complicated than they appear; girls have to stop trying to be something they’re not to attract boys” message.)

Will this win awards? Not likely. But will it amuse for a few hours? Absolutely.

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