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manic pixie dream girl book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Beatrice Giovanni and her best friends, Spencer and Gabe, have been the targets of bullies all throughout high school. Starting their senior year, Bea decides that enough is enough and decides to find a way to reverse the bullying trend. Armed with newly discovered confidence thanks to her new boyfriend Jesse and fresh with the promise of a new start at her dream school MIT, Bea devises a plan that she feels is foolproof. Known not so affectionately throughout campus as “Math Girl”, Bea calculates the ultimate formula, one that will cultivate popularity for her and her friends.

Bea’s formula works and soon the benefits of the formula begin to pay off for her friends. After being dumped by Jesse for an interesting new girl, Bea decides that it’s her turn. Once the formula has been applied, Bea transforms into Trixie, an interesting “manic pixie dream girl” that she thinks will win Jesse and his affections back. Naturally, Bea’s formula is not bulletproof and her plan begins to go very wrong and she sees that perhaps Trixie isn’t really who she is meant to be, or wants to be after all. Bea is a redeemable character because even though she does lose sight of herself and ultimately what is important to her and her friends, she takes full blame for her actions and her self-realization, helps Bea discover all that she already is and all that she already has.

Gretchen McNeil puts a fun, interesting spin on the typical high school story and adds characters that are full of dimension, attitude and strength. While the novel is a coming of age tale, Bea is a strong female lead that finds her own way with the help of her friends as well as her own brain. McNeil is an excellent writer and while the novel is a bit long, the story moves freely with the speed of excited, chatty teenagers that feel like they know it all, while knowing so little.


Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Balzer +Bray. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.