Rebel Girls

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

The '90s have some of these best things, music, styles, movies. But for Athena Graves, the '90s is filled with rumors and drama! Athena is a mixtape making, feminist views, a punk rock listener who would rather stay home then having to do most things that are social. However, she goes to a Catholic High School. (When I heard that, I had to give this a read.) When a rumor starts going about that her sister, Helen, had an abortion. The rumor has the power to hurt her sister who is seen as a popular girl at this Catholic School and is pro-life; it could lead to Helen being expelled. But we soon see that it doesn't really matter what her sister did or didn't. .)This book really stresses how rumors change people's lives. For the name of this book being Rebel Girls, there's not much rebellion. However, this book does cover topics like political, religious and women’s issues and for that, I thank the author for showing that every single person has there own thoughts and feelings on things, and we should let them have then. I like that this book feels like it is set in 1992 and how this would play out during that time. I love all the music and pop culture references. The authors writing style was perfect for this book; it feels right and not overdone. I do love this cover, I do wish there was more of a rebellion; they do bend the school rules and for the setting, I understand that but for the time period I wish the push back some more. I liked the characters, and the plot was good, but for me, it was about the world and culture. If you love anything to do with the '90s then you'll have fun reading this book. It's a sisterhood, the '90s and a dash of rebelling!

(This review ran in Double the Books Magazine Issue Aug 2019.)
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So, I got this ARC from NetGalley and I really really didn’t expect this book at all. Like, truly. I expected it to be set in a Catholic school and be about reactions to a rumor. What I didn’t count on was it being ALSO set in 1992, with all the music and politics and current events of that time. That made it super cool. 

And this Riot Grrrl thing?!?!? So so so cool. I was getting engaged and married and pregnant and a house during that time, so I missed it! This book did an amazing job of recounting it for me. 🤓💜📚
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I cried I laughed and died all through this book. This book impacted me on another level and I can not recommend it enough!
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The dress code is less strict with bookbags. Athena is a sophomore placed in senior level classes. She decides to decorate her book bag with badges and pins. It went down hill from there
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Taking place in the mid-1990s, Rebel Girls is about the riot grrl movement and the abortion debate. Athena Graves is a high school junior and a burgeoning riot grrl. Her younger sister, Helen, is a freshman who prefers Pearl Jam to Bikini Kill and is an aspiring model, while Athena dyes her hair red and eschews all things mainstream. The two sisters couldn't be more different, but when a rumor makes the rounds at their Catholic high school that Helen had an abortion over the summer, Athena goes on the offensive. She knows that rumor came from Leah, an awful mean girl at school, and her cronie, Aimee. Leah can't stand someone being as pretty and popular as she is; Helen poses a threat to her popularity. But Leah is dating Athena's best friend, football player Sean. Pro-life Helen is devastated by the rumors, which get her removed from all extra-curricular activities - including the school's pro-life club - and could get her expelled. As Athena tries to get to the bottom of the rumors and the bullying Helen endures at school, she starts dating new kid, Kyle, only to have Leah start flirting with him, too. Athena is going to have to lace up her Doc Martens and take on Leah and her mean girls, riot grrl style: which can be the toughest thing of all, because riot grrl culture encourages women to lift up other women, not put them down.

Rebel Girls presents a solid, realistic look at both sides of the abortion debate. Athena and her best friend, Melissa, are both riot grrls and pro-choice advocates, where Helen is firmly pro-life; in defending Helen, the two come up with a strategy that doesn't preach, but does leave a lot of room for discussion. Riot Grrl culture is alive and well in this book, which resonates, because elements of that culture are experiencing a renaissance today: 'zines, social causes, and the #MeToo culture have their roots in the '90s and the riot grrl movement. Athena constantly checks herself through the book, reminding herself that even when things are difficult, she has to find a riot grrl way to handle things. That means not spreading vicious rumors about Leah or tearing her down to make Helen look or feel better. Athena and Melissa find ways to rebel against the faculty and student body persecution of Helen in a brilliant way that unites the school while still following (most of) the rules. As a Catholic schoolgirl from the late '80s, Rebel Girls was like a trip back home. I loved the writing, the characters, and the smartly crafted story. The story touches on the ugly underneath the gloss in more ways than one, too: Melissa is half Vietnamese and half Cajun; Sean is African-American, and both characters experience racism in the book. It's a small thread of a subplot, but a solid one to remind readers that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Rebel Girls has a starred review from Kirkus.
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While this book covers good topics, it didn’t really execute them well in the book. The topics only seemed to be halfway talked about and all of the characters were lackluster. The best part of this book was the nostalgia of the 90's time era. 

I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I wanted to, but I can appreciate the author writing a book about these topics.
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I was drawn to this book because it took place in my home state and I was the main character, Athena’s age in the early 1990s This book was a treasure trove of information and locations that rattled my memory. I was also on the far left side of the abortion debate in my youth. This book took me back to the time of arrests at clinics, hard nosed protesters, and the violence so many suffered in the name of “choice”. This novel also touches on racism and desegregation, both topics just as strongly debated,  here in Louisiana, to this day. I savored the riot grrrl mentality, shook my fists at the same punk rock female artists of the time, and fought for what I believed in, just as the characters have done. This book is ultimately about fighting for truth, female relationships, and speaking up for those who could use a hand. I thoroughly enjoyed Athena’s story and I think you will also! 

TW: abortion, bullying, emotional abuse, racism

I was given an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This opinions are all my own. Special thanks to the Publisher for allowing me to read this wonderful book!
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Hope  teens appreciate the quality and kind of YA books they get today. I would have loved to have gotten a book that was explicitly feminist in the way this book is.
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I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Between the cover and description I was so excited to sink my teeth into a delicious tale of rebellious girls standing together. Instead, I was so bored. I've been reading this book for just over 6 weeks and I'm stuck at around 49%. Progress has been incredibly slow as I was never drawn into the story. 

I'll give the author credit for taking on such a taboo topic. The pro-life vs. pro-choice debate is one that will probably never end. I liked how the book talks about both sides through Athena (pro-choice) and her sister (pro-life). I liked how the sisters each stood by their beliefs despite everything that was happening. 

Now for what I didn't like. The characters to me were unappealing. It's not that they were badly written, I just couldn't connect with them and didn't like reading about them. I really disliked how the authority figures in the school automatically punished Athena's sister based on rumors. I didn't finish the book so I'm not sure if the rumors turn out to be true or not, but when I left off there seemed to be proof proving the rumors weren't but she was punished as if they were anyways. This book just didn't cut it for me and I have no intentions on finishing it.
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This book had the potential to be great. I think that it had really powerful, great themes that we need to see more of in YA, The sisterhood feel of the book was wonderful, the encouragement of standing up for what you believe in was a powerful message, and I think this would be perfect for an antibullying message.

However, I struggled with the plot and character development. The character voices were weak, and I struggled connecting to the characters. The book also moved very slowly, and I thought the pacing could have been better.
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I like a lot of the over-arching themes of this book. Yes, Athena and her friends are getting involved in riot grrrl culture. But this is not shown as an easy or natural development. They are constantly struggling against societal norms and their own habits. They are constantly questioning what it means to be a feminist and how they should be fighting for their rights. Keenan makes it a point to show that there is no one right way to live, that each person should be able to make their own choices rather than having things dictated by any sort of governing body. The broad strokes are excellent. I struggled with a number of the details. Those problematic plot points hung me up to the point that they detracted from my enjoyment of the book on the whole. Those failings took what could have been a great book and made it just good
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Rebel Girls is a new YA contemporary that hit shelves earlier this month. my primary critique of Keenas's coming-of-age novel is a longing for more—this unnameable thing that slips from my brain like sand held in an open palm. The book's heart and dazzle does not always help it overcome much of its dryness. I was often threatened by a sense of ennui as, for most of the novel, the plot just plods along, and it isn’t long before Athena's voice grows distant, like far-off waves. Keenan builds believable secondary characters, but they beg for more page time. The development of familial attachments alongside romantic and platonic ones could have carried a lot more vivacity, but the author plays it close to the chest. I found myself many times wishing this scene or that conversation more fully played out, because instead of parlaying them, the author often only gives you just a glimpse, and then they’re off, running to the next thing. Again, I wanted more, but some moments never come to fruition.

That is not to say of course that there's nothing lovely in Rebel Girls The story, which is a gentle but unyielding reminder of how an author's voice can bring up hard topics. It is simultaneously tender and reverent—but it also falls like an axe blade, sharp and severing.
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It's crazy to think this book was both a blast from the past and also felt so current, since the debate and activism around abortion hasn't changed much since 1992.  And while I won't hesitate to call this book contemporary, there are probably teenagers who would argue that it is historical fiction based on the mention of bands like Bikini Kill and mentions of mixed tapes.  But, I digress...

I think Keenan did a great job representing both sides of the abortion debate without disparaging anyone's beliefs, though the book did lean a little bit more to the pro-choice side of things. And while I appreciated that Athena was brave and ambitious enough to stand up for her pro-choice beliefs, despite living in the deep south and attending an all-girls Catholic school, I feel like the title led me to believe she would be far more rebellious. It is not a judgement, though, because I am more than happy for readers to see that you can be active and passionate about something without getting yourself into tons of trouble.  I especially liked the fact that this book was a decent primer on the Riot Grrrl movement (basically a culmination of feminism and punk rock).  We need all the help we can get spreading the message that non-conformity is OK and self-love is important.

Happy Reading!
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This book could not have been more my thing. Feminism, pro-choice, and girls protecting and fighting for each was like it was made for me! When I first saw this book, I was a little worried about how it would handle the abortion situation, but luckily, it dealt with it really well, focusing on each girl having their own choice rather than one thing being right for all people. But before I talk too much (lol), let's get to the review!

The book starts off with Athena and Helen Graves beginning a new school year. Over the summer, they were in Eugene, Oregon staying with their mother. But now, back in Baton Rouge, they're in school and things are back to normal. Or so they think.

While Athena is having fun with a new boy named Kyle who seems to actually like her, her sister is struggling with rumors that could get her kicked out of school. But once Athena is made aware of those rumors, she tries everything she can to get them under control and protect Helen.

Athena and her activist friend, Melissa might be pro-choice, but they won't let that stop them from helping Helen (who is not pro-choice). Helen is a part of their school's anti-abortion group (my wording. the book uses "pro-life"). Once the rumors make their way through the school, she is quickly kicked out of the group and ostracized by all but her two friends, Jennifer and Sara. 

It soon becomes clear that Athena's best friend, Sean's girlfriend, Leah, and her sidekick, Aimee are spreading the rumors about Helen because Leah is jealous of Helen's looks and she's worried Sean likes Helen more than her (thank god I'm not in high school anymore). 

But knowing who spread the rumors, doesn't stop them. And it's not just the students who believe them, the awful teachers do too. So Athena, Helen, Melissa, Sara, and Jennifer work together to figure out a way to stop the rumors.

They make pins and patches with "So what if she did?", "So what if she didn't," and simply "so what? and spread them throughout their school. While they can't hand out anything that promotes abortion or pro-choice policies, these phrases are vague enough that it's obvious they're supporting Helen, but won't get them all kicked out of school.

And while the result isn't a pro-choice revolution, there is a pretty big response. Tons of girls and some dudes ask for pins and patches to put on their backpacks.

But Leah, Aimee, and some of the administration are not willing to just give up. The shit hits the fan when Athena finds out Kyle, who she liked and who she thought liked her, is not who she thought he was and one of the administrators threatens Athena when she ends up nominated for the homecoming court.

But despite all the threats, the fear, and the peer pressure, the girls never give up. They may feel defeated at times, especially Athena and Helen, but they never stop fighting. And while Melissa and Athena may not change anyone's mind about being pro-choice vs. anti-abortion, that's not really the point. They get people to see that Helen didn't have an abortion (although someone did) and show their support for each other. 

The support and fight these girls have for each other (and anyone who is up against the school's sexist/misogynistic agenda) is epic and I could not love it more. Like...the sisterly support, the friend support, and even the support Athena and Helen's dad has for both of them makes me misty-eyed. 

While this book does remind me of Moxie, it's definitely different enough that you can read one and still get a completely different experience from the other. Also Moxie takes place in the present day while Rebel Girls is set in the 90s, so it has a different vibe to it. 

Rebel Girls is fun, badass, and while set in the 90s, is an especially important story to read today. I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars. My only issue was that I wish it had a more diverse cast of characters.

If you like reading about girls fighting for each other and for themselves,  Rebel Girls is definitely a book you want to check out.

Rebel Girls is out now!

Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

When a malicious rumor starts spreading through the halls of Athena’s catholic High School in 1992 girls from both sides of the abortion debate will have to work together in order to clear someone’s name. 

What I Didn’t Like:
-Slow start. The book spent too much time dialing into our main character and her desire to be a rebel. Character building is important but I wanted more action sooner.
-There’s a teacher in here who I hate because there seems to be no real purpose behind her hateful behavior. I can argue this away. As a teenager, Athena (the main character) may have had the perception that this person had no motives. But I was hoping to see some hidden behind the scenes. 
-The side romance drama seemed to pull away from the main storyline, which is unfortunate. 

What I Did Like:
-The sisterhood aspect of the story was GREAT. Watching this group of girls band together and try to figure out how to help someone else’s damaged reputation was great. 
-The theme of standing up for what you believe in and forgiving people is really highlighted here and I appreciate that. 

Who Should Read It:
-If you’re into books about girls standing up for their beliefs or about antibullying campaigns, you’ll like this one. 

My Rating: 3 stars. The beginning dragged a little and there’s a storyline I could live without but the themes of the book saved it for me. 

For Full Review:
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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading “ Rebel Girls” by Elizabeth Keenan.  I have to say, I love books set in the 90’s because of nostalgia reasons. The message is strong but I didn’t connect with the book or the characters. It fell a little short and was a struggle for me to finish. There wasn’t a lot of rebelling to be honest.  

* I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. *
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I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and this one was an eye-catcher. I was pumped to find that it dealt with abortion rights, feminism and the Riot Grrrl movement. Yes, please!

The biggest hill I climbed with this book was the initial pacing - it killed me to wait nearly 100 pages to find out the rumor that the entire book was supposed to hinge on. And even then, it took another 40 or so pages before the plan of solidarity really took shape. That said, once the girls started working together, I devoured the rest of the story in record time.

I think that the romance element with Kyle was supposed to give Athena a way to struggle with some of her Riot Grrrl ideals, but I could have done without it. He was a pretty lukewarm, flimsy character which the story probably didn't need (and maybe the build-up to the main plot wouldn't have taken so long if Athena wasn't so wrapped up in him!).

I enjoyed the female solidarity, "So What?" campaign, refusal to cave to grand romantic gestures, and the endearing ending. Would recommend this title to readers who enjoyed Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu or Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller.
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I received.a free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  rebel girls is the latest ya novel that takes on the riot grrl feminism.  Athena is attending a Catholic school in New Orleans when things become difficult as rumors spread about her younger sister.  in her pro-life conservative high school.  gossip states that Helen had an abortion over the summer.  now Athena, Helen, and athena's best friend Melissa mist fight back.  overall it was an enjoyable book, but it did take a while to get through.
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This book really fed my feminism agenda!

I'm in two gender studies classes this semester and reading this book that also has components or events I've been learning about was so fulfilling and I loved it so much. 

My main problem was the romance arc -- I feel like this would have been a 5 star read for me if the book just focused on the rumor and that main mini revolution plot line. I just didn't find myself caring about Sean or Kyle and all of that drama.
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Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan is a book that has left me torn about how I feel about the story. I think the story has a lot to offer the reader but it did not engage me in the story as I had expected. I think there are aspects of the story that will interest the reader but it might leave readers a bit unimpressed. Tough topics are dealt with that will engage readers and many will feel the emotions as they read. For me, it is a mixed review. I would still recommend this title as there is a lot packed into the book!
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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