The Girl and the Grove is a standalone contemporary fantasy book that follows Leila, a brown girl who has been adopted recently after many years in foster care.
This book brings a new, interesting perspective to the contemporary fantasy genre, focusing on themes of environmentalism and family instead of the romance or the magical creatures, although those two elements are still present and relevant.
I loved the premise of this book; my problem was the execution.
I didn’t like the writing at all. It was often awkward, almost amateurish at times, and with this premise – magical groves in the park! – there was so much potential, but there was almost no atmosphere. There are so many scenes set in the wood and you basically don’t describe the wood? Why?
The dialogues weren’t terrible, but sometimes it was clear that this book was written by someone who has never been a teenage girl.
I liked Leila. We do not often see characters who really care about the environment and fight to preserve it. I also really liked how her arc focused on both the romance and the family – she has been adopted recently, and she is still coming to terms with it. Her seasonal affective disorder doesn’t help.
I didn’t like the other characters as much. While Leila’s family was great and it was nice to see a strong female friendship between Leila and Sarika, there was also the very stereotypical, really evil blonde mean girl who didn’t get any development. All we know about her is that her dad is rich, she wears make up and she is evil. She’s so evil she’s worse than a caricature.
I thought we had left this kind of character in 2012 YA books.
My rating: ★★½