ARC provided by Turner Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Jill Baguchinsky
Genre: YA Contemporary
My rating: ★★★★
The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.
It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.
Until it isn’t.
When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.
When I heard this book is about boosting women in STEM and is all about paleontology, I knew I had to request this. While the writing and plot was more of a 3-star read for me, I found the subject matter very near and dear to my heart. So, sorry in advance if this gets a little personal!
Natalie is a plus-size fashion blogger with a passion for paleontology. She gets the opportunity to intern at a dig site (museum) in Austin, TX but she soon learns that it’s impossible to wear cute clothes and look “trendy” while digging in the dirt. And to top it off, she gets the chance to meet her idol, world renowned paleontologist, Tom Carver.
But things take a bad turn when Carver takes credit for one of Natalie’s finds, and Natalie tries to find her footing in the paleontology world, while finding balance between her own happiness and self-confidence.
What I loved most about this book was how much it reminded me of my childhood. My dad was a geologist, and he has a huge collection of fossils, books on dinosaurs, and scale-model dinosaurs. It’s what sparked my desire to go into the paleontology field. But my university didn’t have a paleontology program so I went into a different science field. What resonated with me about Natalie’s story is that I, too, went into a male-dominated field. I was 1 of 3 women to graduate in my aviation class, and later worked in aviation where I was the minority. Like, I totally felt for Natalie having to feel the constant need to prove herself that she belonged in paleontology. And I was living for all the educational scenes where we got to follow along on their digs.
But aside from the paleontology, I loved how fashion was woven into the story. Fashion is Natalie’s armor, and it was nice to see her slowly shed that armor and discover herself. I was also loving how Natalie’s “Look of the day” and blog post started a new chapter.
As far as the story goes, it was fast-paced and an easy read. I wasn’t a huge fan of the rest of the characters and found Tom Carver to be a non-magical version of Gilderoy Lockhart. There’s also a very gross scene between a male love interest and Natalie that happens rather early on in the book. And I was really cringing at some of the stupid decisions Natalie made in the second half.
However I found that the end was realistic (to a degree) and was glad that not everything was sunshine and rainbows; that it’s realistic for young people to make mistakes and for them to receive the consequences for making those mistakes.
I recommend this book if you’re looking for a cute book that has a badass female in the STEM field. I wish we saw more of this in YA literature and I’m going to keep rooting for stories like this!
Trigger warnings: fat-phobic thoughts and comments, self harm (snapping an elastic on wrist), unwanted sexual kissing/touching, food avoidance.