Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: The Girlz of Galstanberry


Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Girlz of Galstanberry
Author: G.S. Wolff
Publisher: Wolf House Books
Pages: Ebook; 180
Release Date: October 10, 2010
Source: Publisher
===================
Intended Reading Group:
Middle Grade/Young Adult

Content Screening:
Nothing of note

HDB Rating:
4 Keys to My Heart

From the boroughs of New York, to the beaches of San Francisco, girls hail from all walks of life, to sport the violet blazer, pink beret, and coveted Galstanberry Girl title.

The Galstanberry twenty acre estate, flanked by a magnificent rose garden and horse stables, rises up from the horizon like a French chateau with interconnected balustrades and high-spiraling turrets that seemed to touch the clouds. It was constructed in 1926 by Mr. Charles Galstanberry, an earnest gentleman that believed a son to be the only proper heir to the vast family fortune. Yet when Eleanor gave birth to their only child, Aundrea, not Andrew, he vowed to make her as academically astute as her male counterparts.

Decades later, 5 girls; a spoiled equestrian, funky B-girl, skilled ballet dancer, freestyle poet, and clever debater; from different cities, socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities are admitted into Galstanberry Girls Academy, a now world renowned boarding school in Connecticut. Their varied personalities and backgrounds lead to inevitable drama and internal conflicts. However, with each triumph and tribulation, the girls grow, transforming themselves and the academy.

In the first installment of the series, readers will travel around the United States to meet these 5 dynamic girls and Galstanberry Academy.
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This review was tough to write for me. As a reader at my age, I would have rated this a 3. However I realize that these are meant for younger readers, girls who need someone to connect with, and so I tried to read and review using that thought process. I hope I did this book justice, since it wasn't necessarily written for me.

That being said, I have to applaud G.S. Wolff for writing such varied and unique characters. Each of the five girls in the book is completely different from the one before her. They live everywhere from New York to San Francisco, have hobbies that are different, have family backgrounds that are greatly different, and their personalities are each sparkling in their own ways. I also appreciated that, for the most part, there are no stereotypes present in this book. These girls are who they are, and they aren't ashamed of it at all.

Tweens will find a lot to love in the characters between the pages of this book. As a first installment in the series, The Girlz of Galstanberry is mainly meant to be back story. Aundrea's early life is explained, as well as how the Academy came into existence. I have to say I loved Aundrea's story, especially regarding her father's feelings towards her. I won't spoil, but it's great. The girls are each introduced in their own chapters, and we get to see into their lives at home. How did they each end up being admitted to Galstanberry Academy? You'll find out!

What I liked most was that, despite the fact that each girl is of a specific ethnicity, they are malleable enough that readers can find bits and pieces of themselves in each one. Perhaps the reader is African American, but comes from a wealthy family and enjoys dancing. They'll find a bit of themselves in multiple characters as they read through. I also appreciated that G.S. Wolff allowed her girls to have their own quirks and flaws. These aren't perfect characters, but much closer to normal people. They have worries, fears, and things that make it difficult for them to move on to a new place. 

This series has a lot of potential to please young readers and empower them, and for that I applaud it. The next installment in the series dives a bit more into the interactions between the girls, and I'm curious to see how it works when they all come together under one roof. I'll let you know!






FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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