The Female of the Species

25812109by Mindy McGinnis
YA Contemporary
5 of 5 stars

If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be unflinching. It shoves the worst parts of humanity in your face and demands a response. It’s a dark book–trigger warnings could be peppered throughout for violence, rape (not on-page), and animal cruelty–but it’s so good.

Alex’s sister was murdered three years ago. When the killer walked free, she secretly took vengeance into her own hands. Jack is the valedictorian jock who wishes he could forget his past and make a future for himself by escaping the town. Peekay is the preacher’s daughter who wishes she could exist beyond her dad’s job. The three of them are drawn together in different ways for their senior year.

This book rips apart rape culture, sexism, the dangers of stereotypes, all in a small town with little opportunity for its students to grow in any capacity. Yet they all do grow, and you’re along for every doubt, question, and realization.

Alex finds herself enraged by things everyone else takes for granted: that “boys will be boys”, that what a girl wears determines her reputation, that words are thrown around with little regard for their effects. She doesn’t understand the part of herself that rises to lash out and attack people for their behavior, whether it’s a crime or simply an offensive habit.

I think many women have experienced a lot of rage this year, and this story felt especially timely. As Alex struggles to understand her impulses and to fit in, she had me questioning why we don’t feel the same anger over injustice, sexism, and cruelty. Laying out everything explored in this book wouldn’t come across in the same way. As each chapter unfolded, connections between different human idiosyncrasies and social customs pop up to frustrate you and prod you into changing society for the better.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Female of the Species is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

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