The Geography of Girlhood: a Novel by Kirsten Smith, 2006, Little, Brown, and Company, New York.
Kirsten Smith has tapped into the subconscious of the American teenage girl with keen insight and perception. Written in free verse and using a combination of youthful vocabulary mixed with metaphors and feelings only a teenage girl could understand, The Geography of Girlhood leads us through Penny's last few days of junior high, her first boyfriend, her disastrous first kiss, entering high school, and the confusing allure of her sister's ex-boyfriend. Mix in a mother who is MIA and a father who marries a vegan marine biologist who counts the salmon, and you have all the ups and downs of a girl's life, while ringing with truisms such as the verse describing the new step brother who is
"...in desperate need of a dad
but one thing's for sure:
he's not getting mine."
Smith's style of free verse is easy to understand and is able to describe an amazing amount of emotions, allowing us into the mind of the protagonist which enables the reader to experience along with Penny whatever life happens to throw at her. Today's teens will find much with which to relate in this novel, letting them realize they are not as alone as they thought they were.