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Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done

Review

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done

Previous TEDx speakers Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser debut their first-ever book, GIRL CODE. The two friends, united by their interest in women’s empowerment, tell their personal story of creating “Tampon Run,” a simple video game that changed the way people view the menstruation taboo. A unique outlook on women in the coding industry and feminism from two teen girls’ perspective, this fun book is as entertaining as it is engaging and thoughtful.

Learning to code while fighting a social stigma is no easy task. Not so long ago, Gonzales and Houser were two of twenty girls at the Girls Who Code program in Manhattan, nervously waiting to begin their summer of coding. At the time, neither one of them thought that they would use their creative ideas to build “Tampon Run” --- and they certainly never imagined the explosion of media attention that would follow the publication of their simple 8-bit video game project.

"Honest, empowering and with great humor, GIRLS WHO CODE...is an eye-opening book that...encourages [the reader] to make a change in their own lives."

With honesty and humor, Gonzales and Houser describe how their similar passions connected them in Girls Who Code, and the week-long project that became an internet-wide sensation. As Houser describes it, “Tampon Run” is “a way of discussing the [menstruation] taboo in an accessible way.” Switching between their perspectives, Gonzales and Houser explain why they created this game and relate their odyssey. From snacking during late-night coding sessions to managing media, the two friends explain the knowledge that they have gained from this experience.

Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser are ordinary girls; they have their own ambitions and insecurities that they share with their audience in such a relatable way that it is hard not to feel like you have been there every step of the journey. Gonzales and Houser achieve a perfect balance of techie details and storytelling; the book is easy to understand, but they do not spend too much time explaining anything either. Casual photos in every chapter and a guide to coding at the end also enhance the experience of reading the book. With a lighthearted tone, some of the themes the novel covers are of family, self-empowerment and what it means to have “girl power.”

With their perspective on present-day feminism, they briefly explore how media influences sexism. With this usually touchy subject, Gonzales and Houser candidly narrate the challenges and lessons that they faced as they prepared for college, weighed moral issues and tried to answer the big, hovering question of “what am I going to do with my life?” That being said, while it is mostly directed at girl empowerment, GIRLS WHO CODE is still a relatable, comprehensive and entertaining novel for both sexes.

Honest, empowering and with great humor, GIRLS WHO CODE is an engaging account of two teenagers’ discovery: that with passion and hard work, a teen really can make a change in the world. This book can be read by anyone at any time; and I highly recommend that you do read it. It is an eye-opening book that allows the reader to consider the world and encourages them to make a change in their own lives.

Reviewed by Lauren C., Teen Board Member on May 9, 2018

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done
by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser