Author: Gretchen McNeil
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
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 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 her boyfriend 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 (goodreads)?
I was surprised and confused when I first saw Gretchen McNeil's name tied to this novel. To me, Grethen was synonymous for "horror" and "thriller." So I admit, I picked this one up just out of curiosity and I'm so happy I did!
Plot: Bea and her friends are at the bottom of the food chain, but all of that is about to change once Bea realizes that she can use her Math Girl skills to make them popular. Of course, mishaps and misunderstandings happen along the way, but overall this was a feel-good story that had me laughing and smiling until the end.
To wrap this book up on one word it would be "all-nighter." The story moves at such a steady pace with new revelations and dramatic moments happening frequently enough to keep you glued to your seat. I should have seen this coming because that is McNeil's strength in her horror novels- she knows how to keep her readers entertained. While the synopsis sounds like this book revolves around Bea getting her boyfriend back, it's so much more. It's about friendship, speaking up for yourself, and basically getting through difficult times.
Characters: Bea is one of those girls who means well but can't help but mess everything up for everyone. It was hard to root for Bea sometimes because I could see her going down a slippery slope. But you know, kids make mistakes and I was happy that McNeil was able to humanize her characters and give them room to learn from their choices.
Worldbuilding: Like all contemporary novels, I'd like to take a look at the diversity in this novel. I really like McNeils' characters because they are always diverse and it feels natural. Here, our main character is half Filipina and McNeil makes sure to include all different walks of life in this novel without fetishizing their upbringings.
Short N Sweet: I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the book you need to read if you're in a reading slump or just want to smile.