Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review: The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped by Yxta Maya Murray

Title: The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped

Author: Yxta Maya Murray

Pages: 272

Where I got it: RazorBill care package :P


Kiki and Mish are best friends, but what Kiki doesn't know is that Michelle Pena was born a gang princess. "Princess P" grew up destined to inherit leadership of the Snakes: a future filled with crime and fear.

Michelle, on the other hand, is a nationally ranked athlete and academic superstar. This is her new life, and she's finally put her past—and her childhood love for Silver—to rest.

Then Silver helps kidnap both girls, and Michelle has to figure out how to free them both—and reconnect with a future that might now be beyond her reach.

Before I begin this review, let me get this out there: I am white.

I am the whitest person you will ever meet. I am the whitest person in Ireland. I can lie down in the snow completely naked and no one will see me. I am Albino. I haven't tanned once in my entire life. I am a white girl from Whitesville, USA. I am not ghetto, I am white trash. Therefore, any opinions I may have on the dialogue in this novel are a complete reflection on how white and not gangsta I really am.

The first thing you will notice about Good Girl is the slang. It takes some...getting used to. The pages are littered with "boyz" and "dawgs" and "mothafuckas" (which, I'll admit it, made me giggle). I'm not gonna be one of those annoying white girls who thinks because they have the BET channel they're so down with it, but I am a child of the hip-hop generation, and it wasn't very hard for me to get used to it. But any uptight English teachers with shelves full of Milton and Shakespeare and Lovecraft...well, this book isn't really for you.

The plot is pretty unique, at least from the things I've read. Michelle, aka Princess P., is the former princess of the Snakes (described as the "youth group" to her lineage gang, the 99s), next in line for the "throne". But with her brother Samson (the "King")and her mother Reina (the "Queen") in prison, she's doing her best to forget her past. Now living with her gay doctor foster dad, Frank, and *this* close to a full scholarship to the best prep school in the country (not to mention several broken track records under her belt), she's doing a pretty good job. That is, until some old gang members kidnap her and her best friend Kiki in order to pay off her brother's debts. Now she must choose between birthright, love and her own free will. But all these paths seem to inter cross in an impossible maze that has Michelle questioning who she is, and where exactly she is going.

I think the finest aspect of Good Girl is the dialogue. Gang mannerisms aside, Murray made every word uttered seem vital, and I could almost hear the characters speaking in my head. I have no doubt that the author had every intention to disprove the assumption that gangsters are nothing more then vicious, disorganized killers when she sat down to write this book. There's a certain respect that all these characters display to one another, a kind of Godfather-like chain of royalty. The dialogue and background kind of reminded me of Romeo + Juliet (with Leo DiCapprio and Claire Daines), in that it takes a formality to street life, with rants that almost remind me of a Shakespearean monologue (almost--again, there's a lot of slang). Murray combines regal upstanding with heavy informality, and pulls it off beautifully.

It's pretty hard to relate to Michelle. Yes, she's a very well drawn-out character, but how many of you can say your the fallen princess of one of the toughest gangs in (insert city/town/area here)? And I'm not talking about your cheer leading squad. There's an honest effort made with the believability, but in the end I couldn't picture a real Michelle in my mind, just an interesting girl with a lot of baggage.

Good Girl also brings up a lot of--*gasp*--questions. I'm not usually the one to point these things out, but they're all so glaringly obvious this wouldn't be a real review if I didn't include them. How far would you go for love? For family? For position? My gawd, what will she choose?????

Okay, now I'm just kind of mocking it. Just a little. I'm done.

I especially love the ending. It reminds me almost of Kissing the Rain by Kevin Brooks. It ends before there's any real resolution, when Michelle is torn between these two paths and she knows that no matter how long and fast and hard she runs, she will never escape it. It's kind of heartbreaking in a way, that even though she's, by the technical terminology, free, she's trapped in this crossroad. Murray portrays this honesty that gives this one aspect of Michelle's life a relatability.

At times a bit corny, Good Girl's Guide to Getting Kidnapped is a fun, thought-provoking read that you'll enjoy if your not a stiffer for good grammar.

Rating: 8 out of 10


Jenny said...

I haven't heard of this one but it sounds really good!

Lindsay's Photographys said...

Neat review! Do you know what the name of the website is? the one where you write 15 reviews and you can get a free book?

Thanks! :D:D:D:D

Dannie said...

Um I know what your talking about but the women who runs it has decided not to give out the free books anymore (cost of shipping and handling got to be too much for the poor girl, im afraid). I think it's linked somewhere on The Story Siren's site, though.

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