ARC review: Frat Girl by Kiley Roache

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Cassie Davis never would’ve been able to afford college if she hadn’t been chosen for the prestigious Stevenson scholarship, which provides funding for groundbreaking research. Cassie’s project is on the problematic nature of fraternities and she plans to research it by going undercover as the first female pledge in Delta Tau Chi’s history.  DTC is the most troublesome of all campus frats, having been in the news for their offensive and sexist practices, so this is sure to be some story.

Okay, so I have some mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I loved the writing. I found it easy to read, I thought it flowed really well, and I connected with the characters. On the flip side, the beginning feels more like a crash course on feminism than a YA contemporary about college life and while I didn’t necessarily have a problem with that, I can see it alienating some readers.

Anyway, I love that more YA is heading toward the college experience. I think it’s important to remember that 18-to-22-year-olds (college students) are still technically young adults and there’s a definite absence of literature that tackles their specific experience. Sure, there’s a lot of new adult set in college, but NA tends to focus more strongly on sex and relationship drama whereas YA is usually more focused on the big picture.

That said, I actually loved the little side romance. I thought it was adorable! It broke up what could have easily been a very heavy book about misogyny and sexism. I loved that Jordan was a frat boy who was also a legitimately good guy. I also really appreciated that a book that focuses on feminism included this little side romance because, for some reason, a lot of people are under the impression that feminism is inherently anti-male. Feminists are allowed to get crushes and flirt and have boyfriends, so thank you, Kiley Roache!

This book is a little long for contemporary YA (~450 pages) but I actually ended up wanting more! I would’ve loved to see more interaction with Cassie’s advisor since a lot of the time it seemed like this 18-year-old girl was just dumped in the wilderness of a fraternity and left to fend for herself. I also would’ve liked to see the Stevenson people play a bigger role since they really only seemed to pop up to create drama.

Another thing that I would have liked – and other reviewers have brought this up as well – is for Cassie to have tackled typical hazing practices on top of the sexism. Cassie is rightfully upset by the sexism inherent in Greek life and she does her part to call it out when she sees it, but she goes along with the hazing rituals of binge drinking and humiliation without batting an eye.

I’m almost done with this review, but I just wanted to mention the side characters for a second. I already mentioned that I really connected with Cassie and thought Jordan was adorable, but there are also other really great side characters! Duncan acted as Cassie’s unofficial older brother/bodyguard in the frat and he was such a great guy. Cassie’s best friend, Alex, was a great character even when her actions were so frustrating. And Peter, the president of the frat, actually ended up being one of my favorite characters. We only got to see little glimpses of him but I would love to read a whole book about him.

Overall, I thought that Frat Girl was a great debut – and a great all-around book – from an inspiring author who’s still in college! The book kept me on the edge of my seat as I wondered how and when Cassie would be found out. I both loved and hated this since it created drama and kept me interested but it stressed me out so much! Let’s just say that it didn’t go the way I thought it would and Roache kept me on my toes for the whole book. Highly recommended.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free advance copy of Frat Girl from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.