Barbie Girl has the potential to be a great YA read, if not for a few minor flaws and one fairly big one. I'll get to that; first, let me tell you all the things that are right about this book.
Barbie is a damaged girl from a broken home. Not damaged in the way everyone thinks; she wears a tough skin, flirts and teases to get what she needs, and doesn't let anyone give her any crap for it. Everyone thinks she is nothing more than drugged out crazy slut. Though she doesn't argue with them, she is none of those things. What she really is, is a poor girl with a drugged out crazy mother and an autistic little brother who relies on Barbie for care. Barbie will do anything to graduate and get Everett away from Alabama and their mother. Graduating means passing Algebra, which she currently is not doing. Hoping Dylan can tutor her into graduation, she bites the bullet and asks for his help. Something she does not often do and especially not from Dylan.
I liked Barbie, quite a lot actually. She's a rare beast in the teen world. The skirts she wears would put me in an early grave if I was her mother, but she's a good girl at heart. Always there to take care of everyone else with no thought to herself.
Dylan has all the makings of a good guy, if he could just get out of his own head and the perfect imaginary world he's designed there. He wants to do the right thing but he's so far out of the loop that he doesn't always realize what that is. Dylan aggravated me, often, but to no fault of his own. It's more through circumstance than choice and I could empathize with him, for the most part.
Acosta created some very intriguing characters. Not only with Barbie and Dylan but also their families and friends. Third, Dylan's best friend, is amazing. I loved him from start to finish. If only we could all have a Third in our lives. Roxie, a goth (ish ~ her room is pink, and she listens to Taylor Swift) girl comes in late to the story but in a huge way. I liked her very much too and hope to get much more of both of these two in Barbie World (book #2).
This book did not take me where I thought it would. I expected it to be a bit fluffy (really, her name is Barbie Starr), but it was much darker. Barbie is not a little princess with normal teenage girl problems. Her life is tragic and Dylan is the first bright spot she's ever allowed herself to hope for. But life never works out quite like we hope for, does it? The ride these kids take is tragic and heartbreaking at its core and it's not the happiest of endings. This isn't a fairytale where Malibu Barbie gets her Ken and they drive off into the sunset in a pink convertible Corvette, missing every speed bump in the way.
The problems I mentioned earlier are few and small. Except for one. The one major thing that holds this novel back is the editing. Now, I am a fan of indie authors and read a ton of self published books and usually make no comments about editing. I understand how incredibly hard it is to self edit and to pay for professional editing. That said, Barbie Girl needs it and I hope it becomes successful enough to get a bit of extra help there because the story itself is a good one. But there were too many times where I felt like I was reading a print out from one of those software programs where you speak and it types it for you. Too many words were, well... just wrong. I am not going to say any more about it though, I understood what was happening throughout the book and that is really what matters. I just know some have a problem with it and I would not feel right not mentioning it.
I also want to take a second to applaud Acosta for dealing with some fairly mature subject matter without ever making it feel cheap or too sleazy or crude. I think she really kept her target audience in mind and wrote a book about struggle, growth, love, responsibility and bravery.
(reviewed 71 days after purchase)