by Lisa Aldin
Released Feb 10th by Spencer Hill Contemporary.
Add to Goodreads
Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She'll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she's sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a "lady" while the guys move on without her. Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service. But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends--the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she's built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.
What I say: One of the Guys is a fun coming-of-age story. It focuses on tomboy Toni aka McRib and her group of best guy friends. The story follows them as during their last year of high school and as they prepare for Uni.
Main character Toni is used to hanging out with the guys. They've spent their childhood monster hunting and have grown up together. Things change when a misplaced prank sees Toni forced to attend an all girls school, away from Loch, Ollie and Cowboy (as a graduate of a British all girls grammar school I felt her pain).
Toni isn't used to being around girls and takes the move badly. She soon finds herself involved in a 'Rent-a-Gent' scheme with fellow pupil Emma. Toni 'lends' her guy friends to girls with boy trouble. I found this section really funny because some of the dating disasters made smile and reminded me of my school days.
Other parts of the story were really sad or bittersweet. Toni doesn't like change so the shifts in the friendship structure of the group hit her hard. I felt the way Aldin covered these changes was pretty accurate - As sad as it is people don't always keep the same friendships and priority's do change.
I did sometimes find myself getting a little mystified about the ages of the characters because Toni often seemed much younger than she was. For the most part her antics made me smile but I was over her constant burping etc after a few chapters. She did manage to make me laugh a lot though. I liked seeing her progress throughout the story and become more accepting of the idea of change. The secondary characters, particularly Emma, Ollie and Micah were fun - Emma had some great one-liners.
I did find the nickname/real name crossovers confusing at the start but as I got used to some of the characters having more than one name I just went with it. I would have liked a little more info on their friendships and a more developed ending to help finish Toni's story but it works as it is. One of the Guys made feel sentimental for my monster hunting days and past friendships.
3.5 Stars in my Sky!
Lisa Aldin graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in English Literature. She now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and daughter. ONE OF THE GUYS is her debut novel.
Twitter * tumblr
One month later, I’m sitting in a brightly lit classroom at the Winston Academy for Girls. My dad used to joke that the day I wore a skirt would be the day the zombie apocalypse rolled into town. Two hours in and I have yet to see a zombie, but I do feel like the living dead. Someone bathed in raspberry perfume this morning, causing a war to rage inside my nostrils. I might fall to the floor and convulse, the smell’s that thick.
Maybe it’s not the perfume. Maybe I’m allergic to all this estrogen.
“You okay?” the girl next to me whispers.
I respond by covering my mouth and sneezing so hard that a giant wad of snot lands in the palm of my hand. Carefully, I move my hand under the desk and smile.
“Fine,” I reply. “Just tired.”
The girl chews on a strand of her honey-colored hair as she attempts to write down every word of the lecture. A leather day planner rests at the edge of her desk, a name embroidered in pink curly letters at the bottom: Emma Elizabeth Swanson.
I’m definitely not in public school anymore.
Our Business Mathematics teacher pity-smiles at me from behind her glasses and dives into a discussion about supply and demand. I continue to wonder what I should do with the snot on my palm. If I were sitting beside one of the guys at Burlington High, like I should be this year, the snot wouldn’t be an issue. I would wipe it on Cowboy, the least likely of the group to retaliate, and laugh.
But what would a “lady” do?
Here at Winston, boys feel as mythical and mysterious as unicorns. There’s no sign of them anywhere. No obnoxious belches. No stupid high- fives. No talk of monster hunting. It’s unsettling, like I’m walking among a race of polite aliens wearing plaid jumpers and lip gloss.
How am I supposed to survive a year on another planet?