Author: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release date: October 18, 2016
Format: Hardcover, 352
Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.
So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.
Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?
MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.
I didn’t really know what to expect from I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Within the first three chapters I was inwardly groaning to myself: Ugh…not another cliche high school hierarchy story. After those three chapters and the explanation of what exactly a manic pixie dream girl is…well, I was hooked.
The main protagonist, Bea “Trixie” Giovanni, is an incredibly smart, sassy, and stubborn biracial filipina on the brink of a unique and creative experiment. Her love for math helps her concoct a formula using applied math to real life. Her reasons for this experiment is to help her best friends Gabe and Spencer deflect bullying and to climb the social ladder in their senior year of high school. Bea’s reasons to use the formula on herself is to win her ex-boyfriend back from the clutches of Toile, the epitome of a manic pixie dream girl. Well, at least it starts out that way.
Bea’s personality greatly shifts throughout the story, which gets kudos from me. It is important for the character to grow and flourish rather than stagnant. No one wants to read about a character who is too set in their ways. I love the moments of clarity for Bea like when she realizes what her intentions have become by using the formula and the matters of her heart.
One of my favorite things (which in truth is becoming a thing I look for in books) is the amount of diversity. You’ve got a non-white strong female lead, a gay supporting character who does not die and is used as a sympathetic tool for main character, endearing portrayal of LGBT romance, and a romantic interest that is not part of the jocktocracy, i.e. not popular or is in a sport. I loved Bea so much that I could honestly say I’d like to be friends with her. She is the kind of girl that likes to keep to herself, that loves math so much that she lives and breathes it. Her friends accept her for who she is just like she accepts them. There are a handful of times where Spencer tells Bea that she does not need to change for anyone, much less a guy who is fickle. #friendshipgoals
Then, there is Gabe who is just FABULOUS. I really like how McNeil addressed the stereotypical tropes of a gay young man, but also stayed true to Gabe’s true personality and wishes apart from the formula that made him a star. The portrayal of gay romance is also sweet, highlighting that love is never easy no matter what gender is preferred.
Lastly, the last character of this lovely platonic triangle is Spencer. There aren’t enough words for Spencer other than:
Spencer is the kind of guy we all want. The guy who values a girl’s worth and doesn’t demand change just to suit his needs. He is artsy, smart, and stubborn
yeah, there are times Bea and Spencer butt heads. He is the voice of reason throughout the story. And boy, I wish Bea would have listened to him sooner. She could have avoided a lot of the mess created by the formula. But hey, if she didn’t make them…well, we wouldn’t have had such a whirlwind of a story!
This book also highlights feminism (the good kind), family relationships/dynamics, and what it means to be yourself. It is an outstanding hoorah! and is sure to fill you with unbelievable happiness and empowerment. I’m pretty sure my face was plastered in a goofy smile 89% of the time while I read.
Check out my Goodreads for a play-by-play reaction of this book!