Book Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke

August 22, 2017 Book review 11 ★★★★★

I flat-out loved this book!  I savour books about friendship, and I adored how this book focused on the sisterhood theme, with no major romances thrown into steal the limelight.  Friendship deserves the spotlight and I’m so glad that it was centre stage in Girlhood by Cat Clarke.

Book Review: Girlhood by Cat ClarkeGirlhood by Cat Clarke
Published by Quercus on May 4th 2017
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, YA Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

A darkly compulsive story about love, death, and growing up under the shadow of grief.

addictive Must-Read Refreshing Well Written Young Adult

First Line of Girlhood by Cat Clarke

“We always have a midnight feast on the first night back.”

5 things I Loved about Girlhood by Cat Clarke

  • Boarding School setting

I grew up on a staple reading diet of boarding school books.  From Malory Towers to St Clare’s; I gorged on every one that I could get my hands on.  It was so much fun to revisit this setting, but in a realistic contemporary world.  Plus, the boarding school element added so much intensity to the friendships as they were together 24/7.

  • Very Little Romance

OK, you can’t have a young adult book with zero romances, because that is just so unrealistic.  However I loved that the romances were just one element of their lives, and not the be all and end all of their focus and attention.

  • Single White Female element

There is a dark edge with a single white female angle.  Kirsty is the new girl at school, and comes across as needy and full of issues.  However I loved that we really got to understand her, and she wasn’t just a token villain to add suspense.

  • Mental Health issues:

There is a very authentic representation of a myriad of mental health issues.  I appreciated that they were tackled sensitively, and thoughtfully.  I loved that it captured what was important to these characters with zero condensation.  Unfortunately dealing with grief, hormones, self-esteem, longing for friendship, fear of the future and so much more is part of life.  This book captures all that perfectly.

  • Diversity:

I respected that diversity was represented naturally in the book.  Harper is bisexual, Ronan is a lesbian, but neither of these are major storylines.  It’s just who they are, it’s part of the friendship dynamic, and fully accepted by all.

The Bottom Line

I adored Girlhood, and it had the honour of being my first 5 star rating of 2017. So what if I had to wait half the year to get that, it was all the sweeter when it finally came.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-half-stars


Who should read Girlhood by Cat Clarke

This is a must-read book if you love contemporary young adult novels, and especially if you love boarding school settings, or character driven reads.  Fans of authors such as Holly Bourne, or Karen Gregory should also enjoy.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus for giving me a copy of this book for review consideration. As always, no matter what the source of the book, you get my honest, unbiased opinion.


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11 Responses to “Book Review: Girlhood by Cat Clarke”

  1. Rita @ Paging Through Books

    I’m not a big reader of YA, but I do love coming-of-age stories when well-written. I agree that the female friends’ relationship story needs their own limelight without a major romance thrown in to distract them. Many times the female relationship outlives the M/F one anyway. We gals are loyal that way 🙂
    Rita @ Paging Through Books recently posted…Weekly Book News- 8/19/17

  2. Kathryn Trask

    Really sounds good Trish, oh yes I too was so fond of those boarding school books when I was growing up, probably wouldn’t have actually enjoyed being in one! Book sounds excellent and such a worthwhile read. Thanks for your heads up too on the only Cathy Kelly book I’ve read, it gives me the courage to try another of hers now, knowing you didn’t survive it.

    • trish

      I think I read every boarding school book when I was younger, I adored them! I’m glad you are willing to try another Cathy Kelly book sometime as she can and does do a lot better!

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