Dating on the Dork Side by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: November 25, 2015
Publisher: Collins Mark Books
Pages: 334 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Camy Cavanaugh loved playing football as the only girl on the boys' football team until a knee injury sidelined her permanently. In the three years since then, she has attempted to fill her life with her beloved volunteer job as a peer tutor--in a classroom at her high school with a bird's eye view of the football team and the boy she had a huge crush on in middle school, quarterback Gavin Madison, who hasn't talked to her since her injury. In addition to being an excellent tutor, Camy has better than average computer skills, though not as much as her computer-genius best friend, and she uses these skills to access a secret website populated with girl-bashing members of the football team. When Camy passes on information about this website to the most popular girl in school, a cheerleader and Gavin's current girlfriend, it becomes a trigger for a battle of the sexes that Camy is reluctantly drawn into the middle of.
I'm not normally a fan of chick lit, whether adult or teen versions, but this is one of the best I've ever read, for the primary reason that it is both "girl power" and "girls united" in its major themes. Instead of a cliche "Mean Girl" cheerleader persecuting the "geeky" heroine, they become part of a team of four girls, none of which, in the normal course of events, would have ever been friends because they are very different. In fact, they are so different, it rather reminds me of the unlikely band of female friends in the popular TV series of a few years ago, "Army Wives."
Generally speaking, the central premise of YA chick lit is the exact opposite of the central premise of romance. Chick lit encourages girls to believe that romance is a barrier to making their most important life goals happen, that romance reduces you to something less than you can be. In contrast, the central ideal of romance is the idea of finding a true friend and task partner in life, a pairing that expands the possibilities of both partners and makes each far larger in character and accomplishment than would be possible if they were not together. Fascinatingly, this book takes these opposite contentions and satisfies both of them in one story in an extremely well-written and satisfying way. In fact, I'd say the book is brilliantly written.
I rate this book as follows:
Main Heroine: 4
Subcharacters (Female Cohort): 5
Main Male Romantic Interest: 4
Secondary Male Romantic Interests: 5
Chick Lit Plot: 5
Romance Subplots: 5