Book Reviews

Review: What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

Reading What Kind of Girl was an experience. Not only is it a tough book because of all the slut shaming and victim blaming rhetoric which is pervasive in our culture, but because of that, there’s this fear in the pit of your stomach. We have the POV of Mike’s Girlfriend, but we still hear what other people are saying about her as a domestic abuse victim.


Girl In Pieces meets Moxie in this unflinching exploration of the many forms of abuse society inflicts upon women, and the strength it takes to rise above it all to claim your worth.
The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the police? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true?
Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: Dating abuse, bulimia, self-harm, victim blaming, slut shaming, anxiety, OCD, panic attack

What Kind of Girl is a tough book. It tackles issues of victim blaming, of the emotional decision to speak up, and the ripples within the community. This book doesn’t only focus on the rhetoric of those around her, but also our own internalized messaging. The ways we wonder if we were weak, how the words and expectations swirling around us filter down into our own consciousness. What Kind of Girl is even more emotional as it turns out Mike Parker is the Golden Boy – track star and beloved by all.

What Kind of Girl is incredibly emotional and, at times, hard to read. By the end of Part One I was hooked and there are all sorts of clever writing elements. Reading was a bodily experience as I could feel the dread at the pit of my stomach. It’s so spot on to the rhetoric we hear everyday, to the fear victims have of speaking out, that it made me rush to finish so I could find out what happens at the end. What Kind of Girl examines our perceptions of both the victim and the abuser. We hear thoughts of, “What kind of girl stays?” while characters also struggle with matching their images of Mike and someone who is an abuser.

What Kind of Girl is incredibly nuanced and the character growth is phenomenal. When it isn’t us, we always have these ideas: that it would never happen to us, that we would always know if it happened to someone we love. However, it’s never that simple and we can become the girl we never thought we would be. The victim blaming rhetoric is intense, but as someone who has gone through a situation where I was afraid I wouldn’t be believed, it was similar to some of my own thoughts.

The characters are the stand out elements of What Kind of Girl. They propel the story forwards. In What Kind of Girl there is a queer character, a f/f relationship, Jewish MC, biracial MC, and mental health rep of OCD and anxiety. It’s about the pressure they experience to change the world, to always be the Cool Girl, to put a smile on their face. What Kind of Girl is a journey of self-acceptance in the face of people trying to define you. About friendship, love, and support.

Find What Kind of Girl on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


What other books do you know that tackle victim blaming?

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2 thoughts on “Review: What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

  1. Oof, I don’t think I could read this book! It seems like there are some good things in there, but the stress of reading it would be too much. I *barely* made it through Fredrik Backman’s BEARTOWN, which deals with kind of the same thing but sexual assault rather than an abusive relationship.

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