Hi everyone! I know this is a super stressful time, what with the current elections and protests happening, so I hope you’re all taking care of yourself and taking some time away from the internet and doomscrolling, because I know we’re all guilty of that! Today I’m here with a review of a sapphic 2020 release that I think is really quite underhyped yet is extremely relevant, and that I want to hopefully encourage some of you to read!
Title: Six Angry Girls
Author: Adrienne Kisner
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Synopsis: Raina Petree is crushing her senior year, until her boyfriend dumps her, the drama club (basically) dumps her, the college of her dreams slips away, and her arch-nemesis triumphs.
Things aren’t much better for Millie Goodwin. Her father treats her like a servant, and the all-boy Mock Trial team votes her out, even after she spent the last three years helping to build its success.
But then, an advice columnist unexpectedly helps Raina find new purpose in a pair of knitting needles and a politically active local yarn store. This leads to an unlikely meeting in the girls’ bathroom, where Raina inspires Millie to start a rival team. The two join together and recruit four other angry girls to not only take on Mock Trial, but to smash the patriarchy in the process.
I’m going to start this review by saying that this is one of the most beautiful and most aesthetically pleasing books that I have ever seen – not just the front cover but the whole design of the book, and even the chapter headings were both pretty and funny (I loved the case numbers!). So of course, I was already sold by that, but the synopsis was equally as intriguing! It follows two teens, Raina and Millie – Raina has just been dumped by her boyfriend after he cheated on her and, thanks to an advice column, has decided to take up knitting; and Millie was the drive behind her school’s Mock Trial team until the all-male team (including Raina’s ex) decides to vote her out, despite all her hard work. So, the two of them decide to start their own Mock Trial team, made up of six very angry girls!
This book sounded right up my street from the get go! Living in Scotland, we don’t really have societies or clubs like Mock Trial (at least not in public schools like mine was) so I didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for, and to be honest, I didn’t really pick it up fully until about halfway through the book. Despite that, I loved the concept of the six, scorned girls going up against cocky, sexist boys – particularly since it felt very much like the experiences I have had being part of a women’s rugby team. I was also really interested in reading another sapphic book in which knitting was a main focus, as it’s a hobby that I’m really interested in picking up, and I loved the focus on using knitting and crocheting as a form of political activism. However, regarding said activism, I did have a couple of issues – in fact they were the main issues I had with the book, and why I docked a star and a half. At the knitting store/club that Raina and another main character, Grace, attend, they decide to protest the backwards anti-abortion stance of one of their legal representatives and so decide to send them knitted reproductive organs and go yarn-bombing. Which, okay, fine. However, so many times throughout the book does it focus on saying these viewpoints and laws are violence against women and that these are female reproductive organs, and not once is it challenged. At one point in the book a trans character is introduced into the Mock Trial team and they discuss what it really means to be a girl, and there is no biological essentialism involved in their discussion at all, which is great. But it never felt like enough – the majority of these girls attend the knitting group at one point or another and not one of them actively challenged the leaders’ cissexism. I don’t know if it was just an oversight on the part of the author, but made me very uncomfortable and it sat in the back of my head throughout the whole book. We also never got any closure regarding said activism either, even if the lawmaker didn’t change his point of view, as is the most realistic ending, I suppose, I’d have liked to at least have got that, but we got absolutely nothing which was frustrating.
Besides that, however, I did enjoy the book, and this isn’t a rant review, I promise! I do want you all to pick this book up! As I was reading the book I couldn’t help but feel like this was if Pitch Perfect were about Mock Trial, and I really enjoyed the vibes that gave me! I loved the two main characters, Raina and Millie, and really felt for them in both of their situations. We have some great representation in the book – Millie is bi/pan and ace, Grace is sapphic and also potentially ace, Izzy is a trans girl, Veronica is Black and Nikita is Asian! It was really heart warming to see their passion and their drive and to see people fighting for them to get the respect and recognition that they deserved. In fact, reading this book made me feel like I could be the seventh angry…well…nonbinary person! I felt so connected to the characters and their anger. The only thing I would have liked is to have seen more of Izzy, Veronica and Nikita, as I didn’t feel like they were fleshed out enough for my liking!
All in all, this was a short and enjoyable read that I think could have benefitted from, not only being slightly longer, but also being edited to get rid of the cissexism. Despite my annoyances with the book, this is still one that I would recommend for a quick, sapphic read to get you out of a reading slump!