Book Review: Smart Girls Get What They Want

Smart Girls Get What They Want 
Published By: Balzer & Bray
Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Page Count: 348
Source: Finished Copy Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Whenever I start to get overloaded with paranormal reading, I start to crave a humorous, well written contemporary. When this little beauty showed up on my doorstep, I couldn't wait to start reading it. Strohmeyer and the Smart Girls certainly didn't disappoint. In fact, I'm having trouble articulating just how much I loved this book. I'm already planning a fall reread to go along with the time period in the book.

Smart Girls Get What They Want follows Gigi and her two best friends, Bea and Neerja, as they navigate the swift currents of high school. They have always had their eyes on the ultimate prize - an Ivy League acceptance - but as their sophomore year moves along each girl realizes that her goal may keep her from experiencing high school. The girls realize that they may just be invisible to the others at Denton High. They finally realize that nobody outside of the honors classes knows they exist when a hot-o-meter listing every girl in school is found on the bathroom wall of the boy's locker room. Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are all absent from the list - not that they care about the opinions of a bunch of misogynistic boys - but it is a wake up call. The trio vows to make the most of their high school experience as each steps out of her comfort zone and leaves the homework on hold. Not that these girls decide that school doesn't matter. It's not that at all - they merely begin to learn a little balance. This is a lesson I think adults and teens alike can benefit from; I was grateful for the reminder. I often get so focused on things that I don't take time to slow down and have fun. Life is too short not to enjoy every moment possible.

I loved these girls and wish that they had been around for me during high school. Their struggles mirrored so many of my own. I most related to Gigi as she struggles to get over her fear of public speaking and to let go of her preconceived notions of others. For example, she thinks the queen bees she sits between in homeroom don't even know she exists while they are simply thinking that she is too stuck up to enter their conversation. I wonder how many times I have lost the chance to befriend someone because of something similar. Gigi is also full of random facts - many literary and historical - which made me feel a deep kinship with her. She also has a great sense of humor and remains loyal to her friends. I was impressed on more than one occasion when Gigi chose her friends over a boy. I wish more of my female students would follow in her footsteps.

Setting is also something that can make or break a book for me. I love stories that have a strong sense of place. This one is set in the Boston suburbs and does a great job of transporting the reader into the fall and winter in New England. I have never visited this part of the United States (although I would love to someday) so I was really glad to see that Strohmeyer wrote in such a way that the scenery was easy to visualize. Her descriptions are just gorgeous. For example, in one passage, Gigi is discussing October in her hometown, "It was one of those crisp, late October days that smelled of rotting leaves and woodsmoke and made you want to pull on thick sweaters and bake molasses cookies. As I passed by haunted house after haunted house, I was glad to be living right outside of Boston, where Halloween decorating is considered an Olympic sport" (pg. 17-18). Can't you just see this town in your mind?

Furthermore, the romance in this one was compelling and addicting. I had some trouble deciding on which boy I liked best, but by the end the choice was clear. I loved watching Gigi struggle with her attraction to Will; I also enjoyed her banter with Mike. The Harvard Bookstore scene and the ride home from the ski meet melted my heart. Those moments were just so sweet. 

There are also so many important lessons to learn from these girls. I loved that this wasn't just a contemporary that was meant to be cutesy and fun - there were some serious, thought provoking moments. I walked away considering how my perception of people can color my opinions about them. Like Gigi, I often think I know what people are really thinking and I don't always give them a fair chance once I have my mind made up. I also think the emphasis on friendship and experiencing life in this book are worthy messages for readers of all ages.

I can't help hoping that this isn't the last I will see of Gigi, Bea, and Neerja. I was sad when I had savored the last chapter and immediately wanted to read it again. This book goes on my favorites shelf without a doubt. All I can say at this point is: I WANT MORE.

One Last Gripe: Since Gigi is the narrator I got to know her really well, but I'd love to see books written from the perspective of Bea and Neerja. I wanted to know more about them, but understood that wasn't the purpose of the book.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved watching the trio step outside of their bubble and try new things - it inspired me

First Sentence: Before Bea, Neerja, and I got everything we wanted from high school - the adoration, the fun, the fame, and the super-hot boys - all we did was study.

Favorite Character: Gigi

Least Favorite Character: Ava

Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. They know their "real" lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents) But when an unexpected event shows them they're missing out on the full high school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge--and they will totally "rock" it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking--and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes--until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want--but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .


  1. Sounds like a really great read! I hadn't heard of it before but now I'd love to try it out. I just finished my sophomore year so I'm always really curious to read books about high school and see how character's experiences differs and compares to mine. Thanks for the great review :)

    Tantalizing Illusions

    1. It was a great read. I think you'll enjoy it. I was just happy to see some positive role models in a high school setting. We don't always get to see strong females in YA literature.

  2. This sounds like a really good read. I should pick it up really soon!

    Awesome revew! =D

    1. Yes, it is a must buy. Its certainly going on my favorites shelf. I hope you love it as much as I did.

  3. I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved July Edition

    1. I will be happy to add this to your linky. What a cool idea! I'll have to go through and add the other 5 birdie reviews for the month as well.

  4. I agree there shoud be more books about these girls. We need one from Bea's POV and one from Neerja's POV. I was not ready to say goodbye to these girls when I finished the book. Smart Girls is the perfect blend of humor, wit, romance, and friendship. Everyone needs to read this now because it is just that awesome of a story.

    1. That would be awesome - I'd love to have Bea and Neerja have books from their POVs. I really enjoyed all of them and loved spending time in their world. I agree about the perfect blend in this book too. It was exactly what I needed at the time and reminded me how much I do enjoy contemporaries.

  5. Good review. I quite enjoyed the book as well! Looking forward to exploring your site more. Happy Weekend!


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