UNDISCOVERED GYRL by Allison Burnett

Book Quote:

“Something ironic: I have no real friends left but in the past day, 3592 discrete viewers have read my blog and 32 sent me email. Only on the internet can a person be lonely and popular at the same time.”

Book Review:

Review by Danielle Bullen (AUG 30, 2009)

Why do people blog? In the raw novel Undiscovered Gyrl, Katie Kampenfelt, a seventeen year old starts a blog to chronicle her life in the year she takes off between high school and college. The book is formatted like blog entries, giving the reader a voyeuristic look into her escapades. Her real name isn’t Katie, she changes identifying details about herself, friends, and family so she can be completely honest, because “what’s the point of blogging if you’re not going to tell the truth?”

In Undiscovered Gyrl, Allison Burnett pulls of an amazing feat. He creates an unlikable narrator and manages to make readers keep turning the pages to discover what happens to her. Reading Kate’s blog is like the gaper delay after a car crash on the highway, you feel bad for looking but can’t stop the impulse.

At the start of the story, Katie is dating Rory but frequently gets high and fools around with Dan, a college professor. When she’s not with either of them, she and her best friend Jade use their fake IDs to get drunk. Her cycle of sex, beer, pot, and blogging gets another element-work-when her mom demands Katie get a job. Through a lucky series of events, she lands one as a nanny to the Spooner family.

To Katie, the Spooners are an idealized version of family. She blogs glowingly about Paul, and Margaret, and baby Cole, in contrast to the disdain she feels for her own mother and her boyfriend Mark, and her own father, and his girlfriend Affie. Her relationship with Paul turns from employer-employee to something much more.

If anything, Katie is unafraid to be herself. She writes about everything, regardless of how bad it makes her look. Cracks in her bravado reveal moments of her innocence, like when she admits she didn’t know she had to register before voting, reminding the reader that she is still a teenager, despite the very adult situations she places herself in and the resulting consequences. Katie realizes she’s in control of her destiny, writing, “All I have to do is make smarter choices,” but she can’t reconcile that ideal with her reality.

This is a modern novel, from its format to its content. Political and pop culture references, from the Eliot Spitzer scandal, to Heath Ledger’s death, to the primary fight between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, and Katie’s sometimes hilarious commentary on them, pepper her blogs, setting the story in a very specific era. At the same time, Katie is an everywoman narrator. No clue about location is ever given, meaning Undiscovered Gyrl could be set in any town.

The story is a provocative commentary on our technological age. As Katie the blogger gains more and more fans, Katie the person grows lonelier and lonelier. Technology connects us to more people around the globe, but in Katie’s case, at the expense of real life relationships.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 90 readers
PUBLISHER: Vintage (August 11, 2009)
REVIEWER: Danielle Bullen
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Allison Burnett
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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August 30, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Posted in: Coming-of-Age, Contemporary, Humorous, Unique Narrative

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