Book Review: Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager meets Derry Girls in this hilarious and relatable young adult novel in diary entries about a British teen determined to be a good feminist and her charming, embarrassing, and inspiring journey to figuring out how.
At fifteen, Kat Evans is still sorting it all out, and that includes being a good feminist (and, by extension, a good human).
She promises herself that this school year, she’ll be making changes to her life that will make her less of a walking disaster, like: 1) keeping her diary every day as all the top journalists and writers do; 2) stop obsessing over her crush Hot Josh because she doesn’t need a man to complete her; 3) stop stalking said Hot Josh on Instagram and accidentally liking his pictures; 4) somehow managing to stop worrying about every single thing in her life; and, most importantly, 5) SMASHING THE PATRIARCHY—that is, after she figures out what it is and how one goes about dismantling it.
And though Kat may lack the grace it requires to meet her goals, she makes up for that with plenty of good humor as she stumbles through high school with all its bullies, parties, and crippling moments of self-doubt. With the help of her best friends, her parents, and her diary, Kat may figure out how to be a cool, fun feminist yet.
I’m an easy cry when reading but rarely find anything genuinely funny. Maybe it’s partially because we’re watching Derry Girls (finally!) and I read this book with various of the girls’ voices as narrator, which brought built-in humor. Mash up the Derry Girls, Bridget Jones, Adrian Mole, and Georgia Nicolson and you’ve got this book.
15-year-old Kat is working out with it means to be a feminist. Should she care how she looks? Pine after a boy? (“I bet Mary Wollstonecraft never forgot about feminism because of a boy” pg 95.) Talk trash about other girls? What kind of activism can she do? Then there’s the fact that, emerging feminist consciousness aside, she’s just 15. There’s friend drama, boy drama, mental health issues, family annoyances, mistakes, embarrassments, and very public humiliations. It’s hard to be a teenager. Kat feels stuck between a kid and an adult and both options seem pretty crappy.
One thing I loved about this is the sensitive treatment of mental health. Kat worries A LOT. She has to touch her light switch 3 times before she can sleep. She feels down a lot. She notes that she “worries that worrying is my greatest talent” (pg 10). She has panic attacks. And she keeps all of this to herself, until she can’t any longer. Her parents are amazing. They immediately make her an appointment to talk to someone and make it clear that all of this anxiety and depression is not some sort of flaw but something that’s very common and can be treated. Her parents tell her that all of this anxiety and sadness can make her brain play tricks on herself and tell her lies. They WILL get her help. They will work with her.
Kat is not a perfect feminist. And who is? Sure, often times her thinking about feminism is simplistic or lacks nuance. She reads as a real person, not some sort of perfect example of feminism or adolescence or personhood. She’s interrogating what she believes and what’s happening all around her. She’s learning. She’s messing up. She’s growing.
A hilarious and engaging look at the life of a self-deprecating teenage feminist facing all the ups and downs of life. A great read.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 01/02/2024
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network