Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Review

Title: undiscovered gyrl
Author: Allison Burnett
ISBN: 978-0-307-47312-7
Pages: 293
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Vintage Contemporaries
Genre: YA Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Publisher: Only on the internet can you have so many friends and be so lonely. Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.

Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father suffers a terrible fall, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie's fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.

Sexually frank, often heartbreaking, and bursting with devilish humor, Undiscovered Gyrl is an extraordinarily accomplished novel of identity, voyeurism, and deceit.

My Thoughts: I started reading Undiscovered Gyrl thinking it would be a simple, quick read entertaining but somewhat immature for an adult. I expected to read a story that taught a lesson or attempted to instill values and morals, with some of the hokiness of an after school special, in young adults. Well, you know what they say about assuming something.. .ahem! ...well, jus don't! I never read YA Fiction before now but I certainly will after reading this book.

An undiscovered girl is a young girl who doesn’t feel valued, who feels she isn't noticed or is ignored by the world around her. She thinks if she vanished tomorrow nobody would notice. She’ll say that she doesn't want to be noticed but she craves attention for the person she is not the person she appears to be. She fears being forgotten. An undiscovered girl has a family but her family members are wrapped up in their own lives. She is selfish partly because she feels like nobody really wants to know her true self.. She likes to dramatize her life and often over-reacts to even the smallest issues to get attention. An undiscovered girl is insecure and self-conscious because she feels unloved. It's common for her to do whatever it takes to get attention, even if the attention makes her feel badly about herself afterwards. An undiscovered girl is a lost, lonely young girl aching for someone to love her unconditionally and tell her it's okay to be herself. Katie is all of these things and so much more. Katie Kampenfelt is an undiscovered girl like so many female teenagers.

I didn't like or dislike this book. "Like" is too simple a concept for how this book made me feel. Few books have cause me to experience the range of emotions I felt while reading undiscovered gyrl. At different times anger, disgust, sadness, pride, compassion, pity, laughter, aggravation, revulsion and fear coursed through me. Katie made me laugh, scream, grit my teeth, groan and smile intermittently. While reading the bits and pieces of her life she shared, Katie, the main character, appeared insecure and self-conscious like so many young girls today. But she's also arrogant, very intelligent and scared. She makes many poor decisions out of a desire to be loved and doesn't completely grasp the difference between unconditional love and being loved for what you can provide another person such as sex.. Katie's insecurity is partly the result of poor, selfish parenting and lack of attention. Glimpses of the sad little girl who just wants her daddy's love tugged at my heart strings but the drinking, drugging obnoxious Katie annoyed me.

The blog entries that comprise undiscovered gyrl seduce the readers into believing they have an intimate, personal relationship with Katie. Reading her most personal thoughts and being privy to the details of her life feeds the voyeuristic tendencies most of us possess and that have made reality shows so popular. But in actuality we only know what Katie decides to tells us and what she wants us to think or know about her. Katie's flair for the dramatic, common to many teenage girls, enables her to shock people from which she gets significant enjoyment. The jarring, sometimes unbelievable entries that attract numerous and critical readers to Katie's blog, undermines the verity of what she says. Many of the numerous themes that are introduced don't come to fruition because Katie is directing the storyline. The reader is left with a sense of loss which also begs the question of whether we can believe Katie. Her blog entries, the things she writes and the way she writes them makes it difficult to trust what she says.

Once I started reading this book, it was difficult to put down. As much as several of Katie's blog entries made me cringe while others disgusted me, Katie definitely got under my skin. I was rooting for her halfway though the book. I was extremely disappointed by the end of this book for many different reasons. But that's all I'm going to say about that!

I think this is an especially good book for the parents of a young girl or anyone who is caring for a young girl because it touches on so many of the issues young girls confront growing up in the world today. It's also a good book for older teenagers, for some it may even serve as a wake-up call. Katie is smart, beautiful and wants to be loved. She has so much potential. But she seems to be teetering on the edge, about to plunge into the dark side. She needs someone to grab her up, hug her, ease her insecurities and tell her it's going to be okay before it's too late. The same goes for so many young girls today.


  1. This is one of the best, most thoughtful, most moving reviews of my novel. Thank you so much.

    Allison Burnett

  2. I really liked the review, as well!


  3. Wow! That's some testimony to your abilities, Amy!!!

  4. Excellent job Amy! Seashell does read YA and rereads her favorites many, many times just as she does with her adult books. I will get this one for her as it sounds like something she will love.

  5. Fantastic review! Now I want to read this book for myself!

  6. I need to have you with me the next time I shop for books! You always seem to find the most interesting books to read!

  7. Sheri: Thank you!
    Kathy: Thank you so much. I take this as an amazing complement coming from you.
    Kathy: Thank you! I'd love to know what Seashell thinks of the book if she reads it!
    Falling: Definitely read this book and let me know when you do!
    Willoughby: It would be great fun to shop for books with you!

    Thank you for all of your comments. Your positive feedback means so much to me. This review took me a while to write as I'm still getting the hang of writing reviews. Also, the more I thought about this book, the more there was to think about! It was so sweet of all of you to not comment on my punctuation and other typos! I'm sure I re-read and re-read this! lol (I'll have to edit my review now that I know those typos are there or they will bug me!)

    Again, thank you!
    ~ A

  8. My God, that is such an astute post with a view into part of the world today.
    I especially like how you identify the dichotomy of arrogance and fear.

    Perhaps there should be more books like this, perhaps the writer was edited for shock value rather than quality. I am interested in this particular book. Thank you.