What Girls Are Made Of

What Girls Are Made of by Elana K. Arnold


When Nina Faye was fourteen, her mother told her there was no such thing as unconditional love. Nina believed her. Now she'll do anything for the boy she loves, to prove she's worthy of him. But when he breaks up with her, Nina is lost. What is she if not a girlfriend? What is she made of? Broken-hearted, Nina tries to figure out what the conditions of love are.


"Love for a woman," my mother said, "is always conditional on her beauty. That," she said, my fingers grazing hers on the final fold, "and sex."

As I finished reading the last couple of pages, goosebumps started growing down my back and spread all over my shoulders and arms. Yeah, it's one of those books. And, honestly, the ending is the most upbeat part of What Girls Are Made of. The beginning kind of pretends to be upbeat and happy but it's twisted and uncomfortable and really not happy at all. And the middle doesn't even try to pretend to be anything but ugly and gruesome. Obviously, this book is not gruesome in the traditional sense but in an emotional and personal and manipulative and very, very intimate way. 

I'm still sitting on one of the awkward, uncomfortable maxi pads, I'm still bleeding from my abortion. But that abortion was the kindest, best thing I have done for myself in as long as I can remember. It was probably the best decision I have ever made – maybe the best decision I will ever make.

I don't think I'm able to properly describe this book. It's weird. Really weird, actually, and it's also very explicit (there's quite a bit of sex in it - I would have minded the amount if it hadn't been used with a specific purpose) and raw. It often feels like a fairy tale, not only because there are fairy tale-esque short stories between chapters but because everything feels like it's trying to teach you a lesson (until you have to figure out by yourself that you have to figure things out for yourself) by telling a very familiar (only Arnold only pretends to write a familiar story, in reality the book isn't 'familiar' at all and just feels like it should be?). Am I making any kind of sense?

What I can say about this book is that it felt magical and sort of hyperreal. Further, I very much enjoyed the writing style, even though it wasn't a outstandingly beautiful style it was used to great effect. I can't say I enjoyed the story, as such, but I don't think I'm supposed to because it had the desired effect on me. At times, I had to put this book down and take a bit of a breather before I was able to continue. At times I couldn't stop reading.

I highly, highly, recommend What Girls Are Made of

"As long as there have been women," Mom told me, "there have been ways to punish them for being women."

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Name: What Girls Are Made of
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Pages: 208
Where?: Amazon


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