Katie Kampenfelt is both the luckiest and unluckiest girl in the world. She seems to attract positive things into her life: great jobs, insightful people. She is beautiful, bright and likable. At the same time she is lonely and self-destructive, and eventually undermines every relationship that she has.
At 17, she is hampered by the realities of her life as it is: sexually molested at a young age; an alcoholic, dead-beat dad; a mom too involved in her own life to notice that Katie’s is spiraling out of control; no direction or ambition beyond the liquor store. After deciding to delay college for a year, Katie begins to blog about her daily life, hoping to turn her hiatus into a learning experience. It is through her entries that we watch her life unravel.
Katie manages to catch lucky breaks, but her appetite for promiscuity and alcohol taints whatever promise and hope comes her way. Katie is beautiful, spirited and funny, and she knows her effect on men. She uses it to her advantage, which usually ends up being to her detriment. It turns out that the least sordid relationship she develops – and the only relationship she doesn’t poison – is with a convicted sex offender.
Undiscovered Gyrl is a disturbing glimpse into the life of a young woman with no self-esteem, no moral boundaries, and a lack of self-control. It both intrigues me and bothers me that Katie always gets what she wants. The problem is that she consistently focuses her energies on the wrong things. She confuses love with the challenge of being able to sexually conquer an unavailable man.
Through Katie’s insights into classic movies and politics, we can see that she is sensitive and intelligent, but she doesn’t allow herself to be anything but a vessel for pleasure. We can see that people are drawn to her and want to help her, which inspires hope that, despite her problems and vices, with help she can overcome her dysfunction and become a more content person. In spite of how she conducts herself, I want to like Katie. I want her to find her passion and go back to school. I want her to fall in love for the right reasons, with someone who loves her back.
This is an intriguing book that I couldn’t put down. Written in blog format, a relevant formula considering the subject matter, Undiscovered Gyrl is an is edgy, darkly humorous and a little raunchy. It is a compelling story about a troubled young woman trying to find herself and finding only shame, disappointment and loneliness instead.