Just Another Girl
Point, April 2017
A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption that is deliberately over-engineered so that it performs a basic function in a completely unnecessarily convoluted, chain-reaction, kind of way. Not unlike typical teenage girls making relationships exponentially more difficult by playing games and employing tricks instead of just kicking off a clever conversation. Differing from teenage dating, however; there are actual Rube Goldberg competitions. In Just Another Girl, Hope and Brady are part of their high school team that will be designing and building an entry for an upcoming contest.
Hope’s crush on Brady and her subsequent disdain of his girlfriend, Parker, form a familiar pseudo-love-triangle when viewed from Hope’s vantage. I admit—for a moment this gave me pause. I do love settling down with a classic chronicle; but, having read and revered Ms. Eulberg’s writing, it was unexpected. I do love surprises, so I was quite pleased to sit back and see where it would lead.
Turns out, with her fabulously foreboding foreshadowing, the reader doesn’t need to be familiar with Ms. Eulberg’s work to feel something sinister and substantial slithering underneath. Perspectives change when Parker picks up the narration. In spite of her valiant effort to maintain a typical teen image, a closer look reveals her ruse.
Facets of Parker’s life unfold with all the feels. Soul-shredding snippets, such as Parker’s money-saving system, serve as subtle reminders of the ripple effect. One horrific act has many consequences. The broadening view casts Parker in a new light and tosses some shade Hope’s way. For me, it was impossible to feel sympathy, support and admiration for Parker without feeling a bit of frustration with Hope.
Ms. Eulberg highlights a significant subject in an affable, empathetic way. Relatable characters have flaws, make mistakes and even behave quite selfishly at times—just like in real life. Mirroring so many of the teens I’m fortunate enough to know; these adolescents have huge hearts, big ideas and the desire and determination to better themselves and help others along the way—-once they are able to focus on other people over themselves. I adore this delightful book about an unimaginably dismal situation.
Reviewed by jv poore, April 2017.