Author: Alexa Martin
Published: May 3, 2011 by Hyperion
Challenge: 2011 Debut Author Challenge
Source: e-ARC via NetGalley and Publisher
Summary: As if transferring senior year weren't hard enough, Charlotte Locke has been bumped to lower level classes at her new school. With no friends, a terrible math SAT score, and looming college application deadlines, the future is starting to seem like an oncoming train for which she has no ticket.
Then Amanda enters her orbit like a hot-pink meteor, offering Charlotte a ticket to something else: popularity. Amanda is fearless, beautiful, brilliant, and rich. As her new side kick, Charlotte is brought into the elite clique of the debate team—and closer to Neal, Amanda's equally brilliant friend and the most perfect boy Charlotte has ever seen.
But just when senior year is looking up, Charlotte’s life starts to crumble. The more things heat up between Charlotte and Neal, the more Neal wants to hide their relationship. Is he ashamed? Meanwhile, Amanda is starting to act strangely competitive, and she's keeping a secret Charlotte doesn't want to know.
Talented newcomer Alexa Martin delivers a poignant story of first love, jealousy and friendship, where the ups and downs of senior year have never been so complicated. What else can Charlotte do but throw her hands up and ride?
Review: I was very surprised by this book. A lot of books deal with "finding yourself" and peer pressure and fitting in with people for all the wrong reasons, but Alexa Martin has created something that feels real.
It took me a while to get into Girl Wonder because some of the plot points didn't really pan out. The fact that Charlotte had a learning disability didn't really go anywhere, nor did the fact that she wasn't in GATE. But then again, these were things that helped transition the story into its main plot.
The characters both fascinate and confuse me. I still don't know why Neal wanted to keep his and Charlotte's relationship a secret. Was he really just cheating on her the whole time? A lot of times in YA books there's the theme that popular people only like those "beneath them" for something they have. At first I thought this was the case in Girl Wonder, but I came to realize that it seemed like Neal and Amanda really did like Charlotte, and I was almost sad at the end with what became of there characters. They may have annoyed Charlotte but I thought Milton and James Henry were hilarious and I wish there had been more of them in the book.
I noticed that there was a strong subplot that had to do with Charlotte's family (specifically her parents) and I wish there had been more of her family in the book. I think it wold have been a good balance to her crazy school life, even though her family life was pretty crazy, too.
There were two things that I noticed that really endeared me to this book. One was the characters' progression. I could really see Charlotte growing and learn that she needed to start doing what was right for her and not take the crap she had been taking from some people. The second was how certain parts seemed so realistic, specifically her getting over someone. She had her time to be sad and mopey but she didn't stay in mopey land forever. She got over it and moved on, and for some reason hat made me very happy.
In short, Girl Wonder is an honest look at what peer pressure can lead to and how important it is to know who you're dealing with. It's got its humorous side and its serious side, but they come together nicely to tell Charlotte's story in quite a nice way.