HOW TO START A FEMINIST REVOLUTION:
1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender
2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)
3. Always try to keep it funny
4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…
Lottie’s determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas…
How to actually start a feminist revolution:
- Be Holly Bourne
- Write more books like WAGGD
WAGGD is the third and final instalment in Bourne’s ‘Normal’ trilogy, preceded by ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ and ‘How Hard Can Love Be?’ and it’s an absolutely blinding finish. Holly’s books have this incredible ability to make you feel heard and understood, loud and frighteningly clear. She just gets how to write teenagers and women in a way that so few authors do; the writing has bursts of comic brilliance, the dialogue is perfectly judged and the character development is never anything less than utterly realistic.
A young adult book that tackles sexism, celebrates feminism and promotes equality so boldly has been a long time coming. Such a forthright story could have easily fallen into self-importance, or come across as preachy, but Bourne tempers big ideas and even bigger questions with fantastic judgement, trademark wit and a huge helping of encouragement and clown horns. The result is a realistic yet warm portrayal of what it’s like to be young, female and a feminist.
The characters, who we’ve come to know and love from books one and two are still present and still developing, but this time, Lottie is our narrator. Whip-smart Cambridge applicant, cheesy snack lover and ardent feminist; we follow Lottie as she undertakes a mission to call out every sexist thing she sees for a whole month after being sexually harassed on her way to college. As her guerrilla-style ‘vagilante’ campaign goes viral, Lottie begins to realise that doing what’s right isn’t always easy and life is full of contradictions, pot holes and complications.
I loved the way that the complexity of feminism is put under the microscope via Lottie’s experiences. Can you wear make-up and still fight the patriarchy? Can you go dream of studying at an academic institution that favours white, middle class male applicants and still retain your feminist beliefs? Is it hypocrisy to class catcalling as sexual harassment and then ogle the hot guy in your film studies class at college? I found myself relating so easily to Lottie and the way that Bourne presents modern day sexism and feminism, instantly recognising behaviour and experiences that reminded me of my own.
This book also shows the incredibly dark side of going against the status quo. Whilst I’m a lover of social media (I blog, duh), Bourne does an incredible job of portraying the digital world as both friend and foe for her protagonist. Whilst Lottie finds support, strength and kindred spirits online, she also faces horrendous trolling the likes of which you only have to look so far to see on social media every day. In a twist of art imitating real life, the ‘I am a feminist’ hashtag used by Usborne to promote the release of What’s A Girl Gotta Do? was quickly picked up by trolls who leveled everything from petty insults to rape threats at people who were merely declaring their belief in equality for the sexes and sharing in excitement about a hotly anticipated book. I wonder if it’s Holly’s own experiences online that have imbued WAGGD? with such a terrifying sense of reality.
Lottie is a wonderful role model and Amber and Evie continue to be awesome, as expected. Bourne characters always feel so true to life and Lottie is no exception; blustering through the pages with a mix of wit, unabashed intelligence and a desire to be exactly who she is, even if she doesn’t know exactly who that might be yet. In this book, we’re treated to getting to know Lottie in more depth and as she struggles with the weight of expectation from her parents, falls out with her friends, fancies boys and gets inappropriately, rip-roaringly drunk, you can’t help but fall in love with her and feel like she’s someone you could be friends with, too. ]
I could ramble on for days and days (with a mountain of cheesy snacks to keep me going, of course) about how much I loved this book. I thought it was the perfect ending to a blindingly good contemporary trilogy, but I also think it would be more than capable of standing on it’s own two feet as a powerful, hopeful, hilarious, inspiring and relateable standalone read. The writing was perfect, the characters were well-rounded and human and the story line is one that packs a punch without ever patronising or preaching to the reader. Read it, absorb it and pass it on to the special girls and women in your life. Pass it to your younger sister who thinks she needs to lose ten pounds to be beautiful, to your best friend who gets catcalled every time she walks to lectures, to your work colleague who keeps getting brushed up against by that dude in the office. Show it to aunties, to cousins, to your boyfriends mum’s best friend’s daughter. Hell, even pass it on to the special young men in your life who’ll realise that sexism isn’t just having a negative effect women the world over.
Feminism is about equality and equality comes from understanding. If this book doesn’t help more people understand, even just a tiny bit, then I don’t know what will.
Star rating out of 5:
- Author: Holly Bourne
- Publication Date: 1st August 2016
- Publisher: Usbourne Publishing
- Pages: 432
- In short: LET YOUR INNER CAT LADY OUT OF THE BAG