Title: Babe in Boyland
Author: Jody Gehrman
Publication Date: February 17th 2011
Length: 292 pages (Hardcover)
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When high school junior Natalie-or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper-is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want. But the guys in her class won’t give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected-especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?
After finishing The Art of Wishing yesterday, I realised that I really needed to read another lighthearted book before picking up dystopians again. ;) So, hungry for more laughter, I decided to pick up Babe in Boyland :).
Have you ever seen the movie She’s the man? I have, and well…this has been said before and will be said again, so I’m just going to get it over with; Babe in Boyland is basically the same as that movie. I mean sure, Natalie has completely different intentions than Viola when disguising herself as a boy, but there were so many other similarities that it sometimes felt like I had already read the book. Some parts and conversations seemed to come almost straight from the movie, with only a few changes, for example…
- She falls in love with her roomate.
- She gets hit by a ball you-know-where, and doesn’t realise she should be in pain until everybody looks at her like she’s insane.
- Her girlfriends help improve her status amongst the popular guys.
- There’s a girl that starts to like her.
- There’s a mean girl she has to avoid unless she wants to be discovered.
- She tells a person they have cute shoes.
There’s more, but I don’t want to spoil you too much. The point is, sure, it’s kind of inevitable that two stories about girls dressing up as boys and pretending to be a student at another school will be similar, but this was a bit too much. I was hit by déjà vu more than once and it kind of lowered my opinion of it a bit.
Aaaand, when I’m already on it, here you have two more things that were my main problems with this book:
- I didn’t really see what she based her feelings for Emilio on. In her head, they went straight from roommates to soulmates, and I don’t like that kind of leap.
- The whole planning and getting her into the school just was far too easy. Everything just solved it self tralala no problem. It was really, super vauge.
“He did it! You’re in.” Chloe squels. “Really?” My heart’s racing. “How? What did he do?” She holds up her hands. “The kid’s a little Einstein, man. I don’t ask for details. ALL I know is your name’s Nat Rodgers and they should be expecting you in the Admissions office Monday Morning.”
Oh, really? How very convenient. Everybody just happens to have a 12-year-old cousin with mad hacking skills. Hey mom? I think I’m not going to be home for a week, okay with that? Sure honey. Oh wait, won’t the school notice I’m gone? Naaaah.
DONE! I’m going to stop complaining now. Moving on to the good, happy stuff ;).
The thing about Babe in Boyland, is that despite its flaws, it was really funny and enjoyable. If you liked She’s the Man, you will most likely like this story as well. It was incredibly witty and some parts were so unbelievably embarrassing that it made me squirm. I definitely had a great laugh, which was exactly what I wanted. It was silly and ridiculous, but in a good way.
I think the characters were very well written and I especially liked Natalie and her friends Chloe and Darcy. They were all completely different, but somehow Jody Gerhman managed to make their friendship believable. She made it work.
“Historically, fights between Chloe and me tend to be rare but epic. We both have terrible tempers and colossal abilities to hold grudges. That usually leaves poor Darcy working overtime like a frenetic Switzerland, trying to help mend the rifts between us superpowers.”
Natalie was really funny as a narrator, even though I wanted to slap her some times for almost blowing her cover by saying OH MY GOD, or giggling. She really had no clue on how to act as a guy, but I guess that if she did, she wouldn’t have needed to go under cover in the first place.
This book also succeded in making me really think about the way girls and boys behave towards each other, and how unnecessary the whole charade is. It’s not any easier being a boy than a girl, there are no magical solutions on how to understand guys, and you should just relax and be yourself.
“Maybe all human beings are destined to misunderstand each other, regardless of our chromosomes.”
Babe in Boyland brought up some great points, and it really is worth reading if you’re looking for a light, feel-good, contemporary novel :).
“People would rather be fed candied lies than bitter truths. Who knows? Maybe that’s the natural order of things.”
“When you’re part of a scene, it’s much harder to observe it.”