Title: Bad Habits
Author: Flynn Meaney
Publication date: 11/02/2021
My rating: ★★★☆☆
Goodreads rating: 3.62
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Feminism, LGBTQIAP+
*Trigger Warnings – Drug and alcohol use, misogynistic views, sexual harassment references*
I would like to thank Harriet Venn and Penguin Random House UK for sending me a gifted PR copy of this book to review. All opinions and views are my own and are not influenced by receiving a copy of this book in any way. I would also like to thank the author, Flynn Meaney.
Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple fauxhawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan.
Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud …
Overall Opinion of the Book:
This was such a great book and certainly one that I wish I could have read as a teenager. It was funny, uplifting and focuses on important issues such as feminism and sex positivity. The main character, Alex, is a force to be reckoned with, and she was a joy to read about. I loved how sassy and head strong she was. Even attending a Catholic does not deter her from speaking her mind.
What I loved most about this book was how much I could relate to many of the characters in the book. While this books does not hit me in the same way reading it at 26 in comparison to how it would have at 16, this does not take away from the importance of the book. Being brought up in a Christian environment, I can certainly relate to many aspects in this book – from purity talks to teens around me being too afraid to talk about sex or even say the word vagina. While this book is tongue in cheek, it really delves into the importance of teenage girls being able to make their own decisions and speak their minds.
Meaney writes about the idea of religion and sexuality in a respectful way. She does not tear down a religious view of sex and purity, however, she does push the boundaries of what should be okay for teenage girls to discuss and I LOVED that. I think this book will be great for teenagers, especially as it emphasises the importance of feminism, not being afraid to be sex and period positive, and also how it is okay to speak your mind.
I particularly liked that the book discusses safe sex in a way that does not preach, but in a practical way. It emphasises the idea that safe sex should be practiced. It is great for a YA book to discuss and educate rather than shying away from this topic.
I loved the idea of the feminist group pushing the boundaries and not being afraid to stand up for what they believe in. While this book is set in America, if you have watched the TV series Derry Girls, you will definitely enjoy this book. It brings the same energy and is equally as funny, endearing and engaging.
The characters were great and the character that surprised me the most was Mary-Kate, she was brilliant and goes on such a journey of self confidence throughout the book. Meaney writes the characters particularly well and the way in which they interact is so seamless and easy to read.
Overall, the writing was great. As a personal preference, I’m not so keen on contemporary books focusing too heavily on pop culture references. The book does reference Harry Potter a few times, which wasn’t to my personal tastes as she is someone I no longer support. However, I can completely see how this will draw in a teenage audience and I am sure that the majority of readers will thoroughly enjoy these references.
There is LGBTQIAP+ representation towards the end of the novel as there is an openly gay student who begins to attend the school. I loved seeing Meaney push the boundaries here given that the school is Catholic. It is so important that there was rep in this book. The characters discuss and fight for an LGBTQIAP+ alliance at the end of the book too.
Overall, I thought that this was an important and uplifting book. It is a fantastic YA book that is both humorous, yet educational. I loved how Alex pushes the boundaries of religion and emphasises the importance of female empowerment.
It is certainly a book every teenage girl needs to read. It emphasises the importance of standing up for what you believe in and pushing on even when it seems as though everyone is against the ideas you have.
The writing was great and I look forward to reading more books written by Flynn Meaney in the future.
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