Author- Flynn Meaney
Title- Bad Habits
Publisher- Penguin Books
Publication Date- Feb 11th 2021
Comments- I received a free copy from Netgalley and @the_writereads in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not chosen by the Patriarchy.
Alex is a rebel with a purple fauxhawk and biker boots.
St Mary’s Catholic School is the strict boarding school where she’s currently trapped.
Despite trying everything she can to get expelled, she’s still stuck with the nuns, the prudish attitude and the sexism. So, Alex decides to take matters into her own hands. She’s going to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues . . .
Trouble is, no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud!
A riotously funny novel about the importance of friendship and finding your voice.
Alex is a rebel. You can tell that by the purple fauxhawk, the biker books and her rabid feminist rants against the patriarchy.
She is trapped at St Mary’s Catholic school, a strict boarding school run by nuns. priests and prudish, sexist rules and regulations.
Despite her attitude and her rebellious activities, Alex is unable to get expelled. Until she decides to stage the school’s first-ever production of The Vagina Monologues.
Only no one else at St Mary’s can even bring themselves to say the ‘v’ word. But Alex isn’t going to stop until she gets what she wants, even if she isn’t quite sure what that is.
She drags her best friend, boy-mad Mary Kate, into her antics despite Mary Kate having her own agenda, and along the way makes friends in the most unlikely of places.
I don’t think I ever knew any girls like Alex when I was a teenager. I saw plenty of them on TV or written about in books. They were always described as ‘angry feminists’ shouting about discrimination, the patriarchy and how women were oppressed.
I never felt particularly oppressed, even with three brothers. The only thing I ever thought was unfair was that boys could pee standing up.
I honestly don’t think gender inequality occurred to me until I was much older.
Not so our main character, Alex, who, to be honest, is a pain in the ass.
She rants and raves about being rebellious and wanting feminist equality and yet she talks down to women who don’t share her view. She taunts and denigrates the Sacred Heart Club who wish to save themselves for marriage simply because she disagrees with it.
Rather than celebrate the fact that these girls have taken ownership of their bodies and made an informed choice about their sexuality; Alex assumes that they have fallen victim to cultural stigmatism about virginity and openly mocks them.
At first, Alex only wants to put on the play because she believes it will finally put the faculty over the edge and get her expelled. She wants to shock and to offend and that makes her quite a selfish, shallow sort of character.
It’s only later that she starts to think that maybe the school would benefit from the feminist lessons held within the play. Ironically, those lessons are ones Alex herself could do with learning.
She doesn’t understand her privilege or her hypocrisy and, although this is pointed out to her throughout the book, she doesn’t seem to deviate from her narrow world-view.
I think this is why, despite her amusing one-liners and her attitude, I found I quite disliked Alex.
“I’m not offended by someone asking to slip me the tongue at a party, but there’s no way in hell they’re making me do sit-ups. THAT is taking things too far.”Bad Habits best quote
But the rest of the characters were wonderful and really made the story for me.
Mary Kate was fanatically searching for a boyfriend and torn between her wants, her best friends’ rabid feminism and the strictures of her school, really had to walk a careful line. She had such great character growth and some of her actions were just hysterical. I do wish she had stood up for herself more against Alex.
Pat 3 was funny and interesting and showed Alex up several times by pointing out her privilege and short-sighted ideals.
But I adored Katie Casey. She was sweet, kind and honest and put up with the sniping that Alex sent her way with dignity and maturity. When we discover more about her character it makes you appreciate her restraint more (as I probably would have swung for Alex way before then).
I enjoyed the book. The plot was realistic and funny and the side characters were brilliant. Just ignore the self-righteous lead and enjoy the ride.