I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl follows Bea’s attempts to translate her status in high school into a scholarship winning mathematical formula. Simple right? Beatrice, Spencer, and Gabe are not the most popular kids at school – to be honest they’re practically invisible. Most people call Bea “Math Girl” and she wants that to change. She convinces her friends to embrace and exploit a personality trait that fills a void in their school so that they can become popular.
Gabe agrees because he is a writer for the school paper and hopes to be chosen for an internship as a result. He becomes the school’s flamboyant, gay best friend and almost immediately is absorbed into the popular inner-circle. Through his acceptance, Spencer and Bea, now known as Trixie, become known around the school. She must embrace her new personality but doesn’t always make the right decisions.
I personally did not relate to her, despite her love of math and didn’t create a connection. I completely agreed with the opinions of her friends about her behavior. I didn’t find myself being sympathetic to her plight and was frustrated more than anything by her repeated mistakes. She meddles in other people’s business, doesn’t take the high road and even though she accepts her mistakes at the end – it doesn’t feel, to me at least, that she has grown over the course of the novel.
Despite the book being formulaic, it was an enjoyable read – I just wish it wasn’t so predictable. It doesn’t take long to figure out who is going to be the romantic endgame, what friendships will be formed and enemy status established. At the end of it all, you wonder will they realize that it is more important to be true to themselves than to be popular? I think you know what the answer will be.
The book has a fair amount of diversity and representation in it, which is good. I wish each of those various representations was given more detail and thought than being an intermittent descriptive word. It felt more like adding the token LGBTQ+ or ethnically diverse character. We don’t often enough see diversity in books, so it was a little disappointing to me that it so little was done with it.
Overall, I think that it was a quick, contemporary read that young adult/teen readers will enjoy. It is cute, if predictable but the unique aspect of the story of using math to solve life’s problems was quirky and endearing.
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