Title: Bad Habits
Author: Flynn Meaney
Publication Date: 11 February 2021
Publisher: Penguin Random House
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher
Priests, Nuns and Tradition are far from what Alex considers to be ideal. And at St. Mary’s the conservative Catholic boarding school, she gets plenty of all three. With her purple faux hawk and biker boots, Alex sticks out like a sore thumb. She is done and ready to leave. But when nothing seems to get her the expulsion she wants so dearly to have, She decides that it’s time to up her ante.
With expulsion as the only goal in mind, Alex sets out to achieve something that had never been done before: stage St. Mary’s first ever performance of The Vagina Monologues.
And she will let nothing stop her…not even the inability of most of the people around her to say “vagina”.
First of all, I have to say, when I saw that The WriteReads was scheduling a blog tour of Bad Habits, I was more than excited to jump aboard!
Now, there were many reasons I was more than excited to review this book, there was of course, the cover and the synopsis, but that wasn’t all. What I was looking forward to reading was the way the story took something like The Vagina Monologues and put it into a co-ed boarding school, one that was religious. And I was not disappointed. From the trials and blocks Alex faces to even get the idea of putting on the play accepted to the long road it takes to the stage, many issues were discussed and hurdles were crossed.
From the very first page to the very end, there is one thing that remains as constant as Alex’s hairstyle, the humour. Alex does not fit in, and she knows it and she tends to view anything and everything presented to her as though it was something to critique, and so she does. With pop-culture references and a heavy dose of sarcasm, Alex navigates the grounds of boarding school with a confidence and charm that I know I was far from possessing at her age (one I still don’t think I possess honestly). While the entire book is from Alex’s perspective, it is not just Alex that made me laugh. Many of the side characters introduced had lines that resulted in amusement. The amusement varied from a little smile to a proper laugh, but there are very few characters in this book that are not funny…even some that don’t intend to be, but are anyway.
There was a point in the book where the more I read, the more uncomfortable I felt with the feminism Alex was encouraging. Mainly because Alex knew she was a feminist in a setting that wasn’t and didn’t take into account the different ways in which feminism can present itself. There were times where I had to pause reading and remind myself that Alex was young, and would most likely learn more as she grew. I think the one thing I would have loved to see in the book is a bit more character growth than Alex was given. She grew as the book progressed, but there are moments of growth and truth that didn’t seem to have the impact I felt it could have landed.
Despite that, I found myself rooting for Alex and her play. There is no denying that this book is funny. When I finished the book and put it down, I felt like I had been with someone on their journey and I quite enjoyed the feeling. There’s a part of me that wants to see what other antics Alex gets up to in her remaining time at St. Mary’s.
This book is split into four sections and I found each section to be good place to take a break, if needed. This book could be read in one sitting curled up on the couch, or it could be read in between classes, or to unwind at the end of the day. With mentions of swear words and vaginas, I’d say this is definitely not for those not yet teenagers! But like Alex in the story, there are somethings teenagers should know. A young adult novel looking at feminism, growing up, boarding school life and the journey of putting on a school production, it is one that warms my heart, even if it isn’t for everyone.
Until Next Time