Title: Undiscovered Gyrl
Author: Allison Burnett
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Vintage (August 11, 2009)
Rating: 3 out of 5
About the book:
Beautiful, wild, funny, and lost, Katie Kampenfelt is taking a year off before college to find her passion. Ambitious in her own way, Katie intends to do more than just smoke with her boyfriend, Rory, and work at the bookstore. She plans to seduce Dan, a thirty-two-year-old film professor.
Katie chronicles her adventures in an anonymous blog, telling strangers her innermost desires, shames, and thrills. But when Dan stops taking her calls, when her alcoholic father lands in the hospital, and when she finds herself drawn into a dangerous new relationship, Katie’s fearless narrative begins to crack, and dark pieces of her past emerge.
Sexually frank, often heartbreaking, and bursting with devilish humor, Undiscovered Gyrl is an extraordinarily accomplished novel of ide ntity, voyeurism, and deceit.
What attracted me to Undiscovered Gyrl was the premise. It’s about a girl who blogs anonymously and supposedly with honesty. She is a 17 year old teenager who lives her life without really thinking of the consequences. She has a boyfriend Rory who is more or less her age and she is also having an affair with an older guy whom she calls Dan and who already has a girlfriend. She takes a year off before joining college because she feels she isn’t ready.
She calls herself Katie. Although Katie lives her life recklessly she does realize from time to time that what she is doing is wrong. But she is unable to stop. As she continues to blog we come to know more about her life which mostly consists of partying, taking drugs and indulging in sexual relations. As a reader you get to know only what she projects to the world. We can see that her actions will have bad consequences. The things Katie does are disgusting and reckless. And although I never liked her I didn’t hate her too. I felt really bad for her and what she was doing to her life. I was hoping for something to change.
The end was a big surprise. I was expecting something different and was wondering how it will end, but I didn’t see it coming. For a moment when I turned the last page, I was stunned. I was like, ‘That’s it, over?’. I really wanted to know more. You know how it feels like when the power goes off just before the climax? That’s exactly how I felt. I kept thinking about it for a couple of days until I could finally make some sense out of it.
So the question is did I like it? It was engrossing and un-putdownable. It got some strong reactions from me. It made me think. It was different. So in a way yes, I liked it. And considering the author is a man, he did a great job with the voice of Katie.
One thing I didn’t like in the book was the constant ridiculing of other cultures. Be it Katie’s father’s words or her own, it was like the author was trying to create humor by making fun of others. And although I do understand it was part of Katie’s and her father’s character, it was just too much at times. I don’t know what the exact reading range of Undiscovered Gyrl is, but I wouldn’t give it to someone below 16.
About the author: (From the author’s site)
I was born in Ithaca, New York, while my father, also named Allison, was earning his doctorate in biology at Cornell. For the next ten years, my family traveled quite a bit as he moved up the professorial ranks. Aside from domestic travels, we also traveled abroad, for sabbatical leaves in Brussels and in Naples. When I was ten, my father was offered a job at Northwestern University. We moved to Evanston, Illinois, where I attended the local public high school and college at Northwestern.
At Northwestern, I acted in plays, while majoring in the Oral Interpretation of Literature. Soon, my writing was far more important to me than my acting. I graduated early and, at twenty years old, moved to New York City. The following year, I attended the Juilliard School as a fellow of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program.
For the next decade, I worked as a legal proofreader and a high school tutor, while writing fiction full-time. As I was without an agent, my work went largely unread. In 1990, weary of struggle, I moved to Los Angeles to write screenplays.
Within a year of arriving here, I was making a living as a screenwriter, but, as I soon discovered, a living is not a life. I decided to return to my roots and write fiction, as well.
Based on Chris’ review, which mentioned the attitude towards blogging you can see in the story, and now yours and what you said about making fun of other cultures, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy this book very much. I did enjoy reading your thoughts, though.
I think that quote that chris mentioned was simply for attracting people, and where Katie’s story does imply that, I don’t think it passes a judgement on all the bloggers. At least it didn’t look like that to me.
I’ve seen this reviewed a couple of times…sounds like a great book.
I love the idea about reading about a blogger, but I think I’ll avoid this book after reading your review.
I’ve just added this to my wishlist because of your review, Violet. It sounds really good. 😀 And Katie seems like such a wild, interesting character that I’d love to read about. Great review!
Oh yes, Katie is definitely wild, I think you’ll like her.
‘Ceri’ sounds good 🙂
The story sounds interesting, but after reading your review I don’t think this book is for me.
The blog thing would have attracted me to the book. But i am sure I can give this one a miss 🙂
I didn’t like Katie’s father either. He wasn’t the only thing I found disturbing in the book, though – I just wonder if young girls today are like Katie. Her choices were so self-destructing. Great review!
I hope not, Katie seems to be a bit extreme no? But I would have been okay with it if there was some hope at the end.
I had a similar reaction to this book. I felt so many different things while reading this book and I still can’t decide if I liked it! I didn’t like the ending. I can’t really say more without spoling it for others who haven’t yet read the book.
I’d love to talk to you about it more so please email me if you’d like!
I hadn’t heard of this book before. Sounds like an interesting premise. There have been quite a few books based on blogs or emails. I guess a sign of the times…but I can’t say that I’ve found most of these types of books intriguing. Just personal taste, I’m sure.
Yup…definitely personal taste 🙂
I love reading books based on blogs, it’s very relatable to me, considering blogging is such an integral part of my life.
The premise does sound good. Too bad it didn’t live up to the idea.
Thanks for the review, Violet. I might still give it a go. 🙂
Hmm…not sure about this one. Thanks for the review, it was really informative!