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Valley Girls

Review

Valley Girls

VALLEY GIRLS is the newest release from Sarah Nicole Lemon, who is also the author of DONE DIRT CHEAP. VALLEY GIRLS follows Rilla Skidmore, who is sent to live in Yosemite National Park with her half-sister after being busted while partying. Thea, her half-sister, vows to fix Rilla’s rebellious behavior. Rilla quickly finds a new passion, rock climbing, in Yosemite and sets out of climb El Capitan. Her journey to the summit is accompanied by her first love and struggle to rebuild her broken family.

"VALLEY GIRLS has an interesting premise and arguably one of the coolest real life settings for a YA novel."

I was honestly not a big fan of this book. It was initially very challenging to get through and then I struggled to find motivation to continue. I also felt that some of the scenes when Rilla first arrives at Yosemite were difficult to understand. The new environment and endless list of new characters were hard for me to keep up with, especially at first. I think my biggest problem with VALLEY GIRLS was Rilla herself. She was difficult to relate to and I never really developed a connection to her as I was reading. The plot is structured perfectly for the reader to be constantly cheering on the main character, but I just couldn’t find much in Rilla to root for. I also kept waiting for Rilla to develop and although the climbing showcased her growth, I did not feel like the summer away had the life changing effect that her family had intended it to.

However, I loved the setting and general concept of VALLEY GIRLS. I have never been to Yosemite or a national park, but I find them super interesting and had a lot of fun reading a book that was set in one. I think anyone who has been to Yosemite would appreciate the setting even more as they could picture the exact locations where Rilla eats, sleeps and climbs. Beyond the setting, the climbing narrative within the novel was so much fun to read about. It was such a cool and new experience to have as a reader and it definitely made me interested in trying it out for myself one day, on a much smaller scale of course.

I also really appreciated how much this book stood out from things that I have read before within the YA genre. This was also largely due to the setting and premise of the novel. These two aspects really made the book for me and were definitely the pieces of VALLEY GIRLS that became my motivation to keep reading. I found the setting, especially, to be really refreshing and a fun introduction to a place that I would love to and could actually visit one day. Some of the characters in Rilla’s “climbing crew” were also entertaining to read about. I wish a few of them were better developed and that they reader got more time with their storylines.

Overall, VALLEY GIRLS has an interesting premise and arguably one of the coolest real life settings for a YA novel. However, I did not love this book as much as I had hoped I would. Personally, the characters held me back from really loving the book in its entirety but there were definitely pieces of it that made the reading experience worthwhile. I would recommend VALLEY GIRLS to anyone who has been to Yosemite or is planning to go. The setting is by far the book’s best attribute and it would be even more phenomenal for someone who understands the area to read about it.

Reviewed by Danielle F., Teen Board Member on May 29, 2018

Valley Girls
by Sarah Nicole Lemon