Happy new year bookish friends!
I hope you 2021 has been at least slightly better than the hell that was 2020. Today I bring to you a review for Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney for TheWriteReads blog tour!
Shall we get started?
‘Bad Habits’ by Flynn Meaney was the first book by this author that I have read. It promised feminist power, fun and rebellion and it certainly delivered.
However, at this moment I am struggling to point out what I enjoyed from this book. Towards the end of this book, I was skim reading as I just could not fully immerse myself within this story. I think my main issue was the protagonist, Alex.
Though there were a few times where I laughed out loud, most of my reading experience was punctuated by my inability to like any of the characters. The character of Alex is what I would define as a white feminist, a young woman who thinks she is ‘woke’ but her feminism is actually more performative than she thinks. She is an incredibly privileged and wealthy young woman who basically acts like a brat for most, if not all of the book, and never fully takes accountability for her words and actions. At the end, her best friend Mary Kate and her kind-of boyfriend Pat, pull her up on her own fakeness, but Alex doesn’t really take on the words, takes responsibility or tries to learn. She doesn’t really change.
The entire story centres on Alex wanting to be expelled from St Mary’s (a Catholic boarding school, which is valid) so in order to do that, she wants to put on a show of The Vagina Monologues. She is the leader of St Mary’s Feminist Club – which is more of her just telling the group of girls what she wants to do, with no compromise or discussion (this doesn’t happen until literally the last page) – and admits that she is using the girls of the club as her ‘feminist army’ to do her bidding. Alex is introduced to the reader as a rebel, as someone who is almost constantly in trouble because she ‘rebels against the patriarchy’ of the school but her acts of rebellion are juvenile and bratty. Her feminism has no real purpose, and only rebels against the patriarchy because she can’t get away with everything she wants. There was no motivation. As someone who went to an all-girls Catholic school, there are plenty to rebel against (sexual health or lack thereof, conversations of consent, toxic masculinity/femininity etc. – which again, is briefly brought up on the last page) but Alex does it because she can.
Alex is also incredibly judgmental about other women’s choices for someone who considers themselves the only ‘feminist’ on campus. Mary Kate does tell Alex this but again, Alex doesn’t really do anything to broaden her understanding of feminism or feminist issues for a range of different women. She had a very limited understanding about how women should showcase their feminism that is just proved to me how little Alex actually knew about what the movement now stands for.
The way that Alex and Mary Kate spoke as well reminded me how adults think teenagers speak. There is always some sort of punchline that is in reference to popular culture, a meme or a celebrity. It felt in-authentic. As someone who is around teenagers/young adults, this is not how they communicate with each other.
Although, I do have to say that my favourite aspect of this book was the emphasise on opening up discussion about women’s sexual health and consent. More young adults books need to explicitly address this! Not only in terms of sexual health and intercourse between two consenting partners, but masturbation and healthy self-love habits. I adored that aspect of the book because I know it a gap in young adult literature. To be unashamed and sexually healthy (obviously dependent on a person’s relationship with sex and sexual desire) is an element of growing up and sometimes that shame can follow you around in adulthood (*cough cough*) so seeing it so wonderfully captured in this book was incredible.
I do think alot of people would enjoy this as it is a quick and light read!
That’s it! Check out the other bloggers on this tour if you can!
Until next time, happy reading!
About the Author
Flynn Meaney is the author of The Boy Recession and Bloodthirsty. She studied marketing and French at the University of Notre Dame, where she barely survived the terrifying array of priests and nuns, campus ghosts, and bone-crushing athletes who inspired Bad Habits. Since completing a very practical MFA in Poetry, she works for a French company and travels often between New York (when she’s in the mood for bagels) and Paris (when she’s in the mood for croissants).