Title: Smash It!
Author: Francina Simone
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available Now
Summary: Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…
After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts–why, God, why?–she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list–a F*ck-It list.
1. Be bold–do the thing that scares me.
2. Learn to take a compliment.
3. Stand out instead of back.
She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys–and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?
In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”
A lot, apparently.
Review: When I am stressed I tend to like to loose myself in either SciFi/Fantasy novels or fun RomComs, so can you guess what I’ve been reading the majority fo 2020? I’ve been reading old romcoms I might have missed out on and discovering new authors at the same time, which is how I came across Francina Simone’s “Smash It!” Overall I enjoyed the story for it’s message of loving yourself first and the main character, Olivia’s, completely messy path to that discovery. She makes many, many mistakes along the way, hurts a number of people, but is able to own up to it and make amends.
What really drew me to the Olivia’s story was how many Black girls, as they hit puberty and their body changes, that they tend to hide themselves and feel shame for nothing other than having a curvy figure. Olivia was an outgoing child, into dancing & performing, but when her body started changing all the horrible words folks say started creeping in and she became a shell of her former self. At the start of the novel, Olivia is literally hiding her figure behind oversized hoodies and believing she isn’t worthy of love. This hiding of self is a symptom of society’s tendency to sexualize young Black girls and instead girls grow up with a sense of shame for simply being themselves. Olivia’s desire to change herself comes from realizing she needs to find the girl she used to be and makes a list to help herself go about it – specifically to say Yes to opportunity. Which she does and her life begins to change and Olivia begins to shine, not to everyone who already knew her, but shine to herself. Olivia is not a perfect narrator and at sometimes can be very selfish which is another reason I liked her. She was messy at times but that was part of her learning to know how to love herself while still being respectful of others.
Like I said, I enjoyed the novel overall, but there were some problematic comments made by characters that made me cringe and I wished that there was some reckoning on the part of the characters for the comments made. I am, however, around teenagers a lot and some of the stuff they say…whew, I can’t count how many times I’ve had to remind a student that their words are inappropriate. This is part of the growing and learning process and while I understand the dialogue was quite “teenager authentic”, the author could have not put the comments in at all or had another character remind the person making the comment how inappropriate it was. Also, if cussing makes you uncomfortable do not read this book.