Author: Holly Bourne
Publish Date: 1 August 2016
Genre: Realism, feminism
Audience: Young adult
(N.B. This book deals with heavy and potentially upsetting issues such as sexual harassment)
Ever since I read ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ last year, I have been heavily invested into the world of the Spinster Club, and I couldn’t wait to read Lottie’s story. ‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ is the last instalment in the trilogy, and whilst I am incredibly sad to see this series come to an end, this novel was truly worthy of packing the last punch.
‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ centres around Lottie’s fight for feminism after she experiences sexual harassment whilst on her way to college. Fuelled by her anger and supported by the FemSoc she runs, Lottie launches a campaign to call out every sexist remark or situation she experiences in that month. Bourne’s own experiences with sexual harassment came into play when writing Lottie’s incident, which I found incredibly inspiring and hard-hitting; we hear and read about these awful situations, but sometimes it is hard to actually believe them happening to us until we put ourselves in their shoes, which I believe Bourne really makes you consider.
My main source of adoration for this book comes from the sheer amount which it taught me about feminism. Not only did the girls have feminist discussions which my own friends and I regularly speak about including the representation of women in media, but I learnt new terms such as cognitive dissonance – which I have actually used in real life since! Due to Lottie’s ruthlessness in calling out sexist instances, I was also pointed towards areas which I had not even considered, such as the sexist nature of perfume adverts and such like. In addition, this novel does not stray from mentioning topics which are typically considered taboo in society, and I LOVED that Lottie named her campaign ‘Vagilante’. Just…YES.
There are a few concepts in ‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ which I found extremely interesting to contemplate. The first was Lottie’s challenge with cognitive dissonance as she fought for feminism and yet was falling deeply in love with the guy who labelled himself an ‘equalitist’. Another was a dilemma surrounding a new found friend Megan; Lottie was aware she was dealing with a past experience of sexual harassment, and thus she struggles with finding the balance between encouraging her to speak up, but also respecting her privacy. In addition, as Lottie’s campaign begins to go viral, she faces the repercussions of online trolls, and thus comes the moral predicament of choosing whether to fight back (but fuel their fire) or simply ignore their comments (but thus fail to call out their sexism). All of these situations challenged my own moral integrity and I found it utterly compelling to put myself into Lottie’s position throughout the whole of the novel. I felt myself grow as a person through this, just as Lottie did, which I believe is a truly phenomenal thing to achieve from a book – MAJOR props to Bourne.
Something that I simply cannot get enough of in Bourne’s writing is the complete relatability of her characters. Each character has their own unique and lovable personality; but they are also so wonderfully flawed, which only increases their likeability. This is particularly shown through Lottie’s friendship with Amber, and perhaps thus even her relationship with the reader; Lottie is so incredibly passionate about what she believes in and is desperate to make the world a better place, but in doing so, she alienates those around her by her determination to be right about everything. I know that I can definitely relate to this, and it was so interesting to watch Lottie’s character development grow as she recognised her prominent but sometimes necessary flaws. In particular, the novel takes place in the exact same time of my life which I am experiencing now, so watching the girls deal with issues surrounding university whilst tackling their love life and attempting to grow their individuality (whilst not feeling like a education-driven machine) was extremely relatable.
In summary, ‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ was an incredible end to The Spinster Club trilogy. I left this book feeling not only emotional towards the characters and their lives, but also completely motivated to do my own part in making the world a better place. Holly Bourne is quite simply an amazingly inspiring writer; I have learnt so much about myself and the world through these novels, and I would consider them the best YA I have ever read. Please, please, please take the time to pick these up if you can – you certainly won’t regret it!