Best I've Read 2012: Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

The ninth book we are featuring this year is Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer.

Andrea had the opportunity to interview Sarah Strohmeyer for the event and you can also enter to win a Harper Prize Pack including Smarts Girls Get What They Want. Check out the synopsis of Smart Girls Get What They Want and the giveaway details at the end of this post. The Larks would like to thank Sarah Strohmeyer for her time and Harper for providing the BIR2012 Prize Packs.

Andrea @ Reading Lark: I really loved the girls in Smart Girls Get What They Want. How did you come up with each one? 

Sarah: Well, Neerja reminded me of a friend I had from high school who came from a very hard-working ethnic family who had strong cultural ties to their native country. She was always straddling contemporary American life with, you know, her mother’s insistence that she not wear jeans and learn some intricate recipe involving five sticks of butter and hand-crushed walnuts. 

On the other hand, Bea was inspired by friends of my now twenty-one-year-old daughter, Anna, while Gigi just presented herself. I wanted a confident but not cocky, different but not weird girl from an untraditional household. And that was Gigi. 

 Mike was inspired by a friend of mine in high school, a jock who “crossed the barrier” and went out with perhaps the smartest girl in our class and, actually, fell madly in love. 

 While Will has quite a story behind him. Let’s just say that the real-life Will is actually a celebrity now. I knew him when. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: The concept of balance is something that really came to my mind as I read Smart Girls Get What They Want. What theme(s) were in your mind as you were writing? 

 Sarah: First – and I think this might have disappointed some readers looking for this angle – I wanted no “mean girls.” Tina Fey’s done that and brilliantly. Plus, by high school it seems to me everyone has kind of found their own groups, so you’re not subjected to the random jerk like in middle school. (D. J. from Northeast Junior High gym class, I’m talking to you!) 

 Secondly, I wanted to explore the idea that when you’re a smart girl you feel isolated. Partly that’s the fault of others who either don’t understand you or don’t want to understand why you work so hard. But, also, being at the top of the class academically (especially, I’m afraid, as a girl) is self isolating. Gigi, Bea and Neerja needed to force themselves to break out of the shell and shatter the stereotypes that others had imposed on them and that they’d imposed on others. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: The scene in the Harvard bookstore was one of my favorite moments. What inspired this scene? 

Sarah: I went to Tufts University outside Boston and spent a lot of time there and in the North End. It’s kind of magical what happens when you take characters (or real people) out of their comfort zones (i.e. school) and plunk them in a place where they’re allowed to reveal other sides of their personalities. Museums, risk-taking sports, bookstores. You never know what will happen when characters like Mike and Gigi meet and Gigi’s secret reading passions are revealed – as our Mike’s. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: Which of the Smart Girls are you most like? Why? 

Sarah: Probably, I’m most like Bea. I always think I have the answer and I don’t always do. Also, in high school I was the first to make a stink about something and suggest a protest, an uprising, taking it to “the man” – our principal. This was rarely effective. 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: How is writing YA different from writing novels for adults? What prompted you to make the transition to younger readers? 

Sarah: You don’t beat around the bush with YA. Younger readers read a lot and they’re not very tolerant, I don’t think, of meandering beginnings, weak characters and crappy endings. They want to feel – love, anger, tension – and they want sincerity. No central casting or questionable settings. So, in that way, there’s a huge challenge to be fast and smart. 

 On the other hand, no sex, swearing, drug use – so far my YA stuff is squeaky clean – mean that in order to drive the plot you’ve really got to string out that first kiss. Which is kind of fun. 

 As for how I started writing YA, it was a YA editor who found me. The fabulous Alessandra Balzer at Balzer + Bray had read two books of mine, The Cinderella Pact, which became the Lifetime movie Lying to be Perfect, and The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, and felt my voice was suited for YA. She was having lunch with my agent about a different client and they got to talking. It just so happened I’d had Smart Girls simmering on the back burner so…voila! 

Andrea @ Reading Lark: This last one is a Reading Lark tradition. What is your favorite bird? 

Sarah: Parakeet. I used to have one growing up – Eagle! 

 This or That? 
- Ski or Snowboard? Ski. Snowboard flips my stomach. 
 - Jocks or Nerds? Jords – Nerdy Jocks. Yum! 
 - Morning or Night? Night. Sorry, but true. 
 - Hot Chocolate or Coffee? Oooh, that’s a hard one. I love both. Mocha? 
 - Black Ink or Blue Ink? Blue, definitely. No contest.

About the Novel

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. . . .

Purchase Your Copy

To win:
* You must be 13+ years old.
* This is open to US residents only - no PO Boxes
* You must fill out the Rafflecopter form.