Natalie gets called out for always taking the side of girls in her love and relationship advice column. So she decides to investigate what guys really want, and goes undercover–as a guy–at the nearby all-boys’ school. What she learns as a result surprises everyone–but especially Natalie herself.
There’s clearly a shout-out to Shakespeare and his gender-bending comedies present in Gehrman’s silly, frothy novel about gender roles and the differences between boys and girls. It’s worth mentioning that this story is frequently silly and often stretches its own credulity, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have something about it that’s sort of appealing. I just wish I could figure out exactly what it is.
Natalie is, for the most part, a fairly likeable character. She’s fairly smart, loves her friends, and wants people to be happy. Her narration is frequently funny. The problem is that she’s so terrible at being a boy that it’s hard to believe her antics don’t get her caught much sooner than the story allows.
The story is predictable and follows the exact path a reader would expect. The supporting characters are a little too one-note (this reader found both of her best friends completely interchangeable) and flat. Although the conclusions that Natalie draws from her experiment are thought-provoking, they’re so heavy-handed that more savvy readers will find them off-putting.
All that being said, the book is a quick read. The whip-fast pace will appeal to readers looking for a quick, fun read. It’s light on the drama, heavy on the humor, and total and complete candy escapism. Recommended for reluctant readers especially looking for a story with a light romance and some crazy shenanigans.
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman. Dial: 2011. Borrowed copy.