Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Book Review: Girl Overboard

Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley. (Grades 9+)

Syrah Cheng, daughter of multi-billionaire cell phone mogul Ethan Cheng, is not quite sure where she fits into her world. She's a snowboarder on the mend from a knee injury and a (vastly worse) heartbreak that's left her vulnerable and adrift. Her family is no help - all they care about is their bottom line - and she's having problems with her best friend. Finally, after studying her father's business model, Syrah will figure out what is important to her and learn to ask for what she wants.

Y'know, I really liked this book and the characters have really stuck with me, but for a pretty big portion of it I really couldn't figure out where it wanted to go. Syrah's dealing with a lot of issues. Her family is pretty cold to her and she can't seem to make them understand what she needs or wants. It's like they're speaking different languages. She's feuding with her best friend (whom she may or may not be in love with). She's dealing with a traumatic relationship-type incident and a physical injury that's keeping her from the one thing she loves the most (snowboarding). She doesn't really have any friends at her school (kids are only interested in her because of her family's money). It's all interesting, it's just a lot for one book.

That said, if it wasn't the most unique plot for a teen novel, I think the specifics were very unique and made it stand out. I loved that Syrah is a snowboarding girl. How many of those do you get to read about? I loved the supporting characters, especially Syrah's half-sister Grace and Syrah's new friend Lillian who helps Syrah find a purpose. Although there are some elements of the Oh-crap-I'm-in-love-with-my-best-friend plot, there are some twists that keep it from falling into cliche.

Things maybe get wrapped up a bit too neatly, but the fact remains that I didn't want to put this one down. I loved getting to know Syrah and seeing how she grew and changed over the course of the book. I'll definitely be looking for more of Justina Chen Headley's books.

Check out Justina's website and read more reviews at Becky's Book Reviews, bookshelves of doom, and Em's Bookshelf.