“Girls with Sharp Sticks,” by Suzanne Young, is a young adult novel that follows a group of teenage girls, specifically Philomena, while they uncover the ins and outs of their “prestigious education” at the mysterious Innovations Academy.
Innovations Academy is a finishing school for well-behaved and beautiful young girls. Only taught and “taken care of” by men, the girls are constantly told that the men are there to benefit and help them. The book takes place in modern day, but it seems as if all of the characters are living with a 1950s mentality.
Even though physical and mental abuse by the men is a daily occurrence the girls think it is normal and that they deserve it, constantly saying that they should not have talked back or acted out.
It is very obvious from the beginning of the book that there are secrets and information on the girls being withheld, you just can't pinpoint where the problem is. When one of the other students, Lennon Rose, abruptly vanishes, all of the girls are upset because they are like a family.
The girls are told that Lennon Rose’s family could not afford to send her to Innovations anymore, so she was sent home, but Mena has a feeling there is something else going on. When Mena sneaks into Lennon Rose’s room she finds all of her belongings still there. When investigating she finds a book including the poem, “Girls with Sharp Sticks.”
This poem ignites a fire in Mena, and her friends start an uprising to uncover the secrets about Lennon Rose’s disappearance. While trying to do this they are shocked by what else they find.
The book follows the group as secrets are revealed that leave their world upside down. Questions about advancing technology and girl’s roles in society and families are addressed giving the book a modern tone while still addressing past female stereotypes.
“Girls with Sharp Sticks” is a pageturner that has an ending that will throw readers for a loop. I enjoyed every page and can’t wait to see how Mena and her friends deal with new challenges in book two. If you are looking for a read that will keep you entertained and constantly on the edge of your seat then this is the book for you.