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Undiscovered Gyrl (Vintage Contemporaries Orig) Paperback – August 11, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Christopher Rice Reviews Undiscovered Gyrl

Christopher Rice is the author of the New York Times bestsellers A Density of Souls, The Snow Garden, Light Before Day, and Blind Fall. The son of author Anne Rice and the late poet Stan Rice, he lives in Los Angeles. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of Undiscovered Gyrl:

Undiscovered Gyrl is the blog of beautiful, blond, Katie Kampenfelt, an 18-year-old girl who seeks to record, for her own edification, the year following her high school graduation.

The novel begins as the diary of an ebullient, funny teenager, filled with the musings, mood swings, and escapades of youth. We are in her skin as she plots her break-up with her college-age boyfriend, battles with her mother, considers whether to sleep with a 32-year-old film professor, confronts a terrible truth about her new boss, and lands a new job as nanny to a newborn.

Soon, however, the story deepens into the engrossing record of a young soul in peril.

Gossip Girl this ain’t.

Allison Burnett's novel reads as both a searing glimpse into a tortured teenage psyche, and a skillful meditation on the cruel excesses of the Internet Age. Katie Kampenfelt's voice feels utterly authentic, disturbingly so, making for a protagonist who is as riveting as she is infuriating.

The story is revealed through a series of terse blog entries, but they are studded with haunting imagery and unforgettable turns of phrase. Ultimately, this is the dark tale of one girl's unquenchable thirst for love and acceptance, but Allison Burnett tells it with a fearlessness that elevates those time-worn concepts above the realm of Hollywood cliché.

Prepare yourself for a page-turning, single-sitting read that will leave you disarmed and disturbed and questioning your own engagement with the Internet's capacity for anonymity and fantasy.--Christopher Rice

(Photo © Gwen and Eddie Photography)

From Publishers Weekly

Written as a blog, this debut novel stars Katie Kampenfelt, who types away at her very own Internet reality show. A sassy suburbanite teenager who defers college for a year, Katie takes a job as a nanny for a wealthy family and chronicles her day-to-day life online in the time of Netflix, Barack Obama and Internet lingo. The divulging blog entries start in October 2007 and end in May 2008, instantly gaining popularity as Katie confesses her promiscuous behavior and charts her uncensored thoughts and emotions. Her audience provides constant feedback, both supportive and critical. She notes that only on the Internet can one be both lonely and popular simultaneously, which is a comment on our culture and being 17. When Katie's admittedly superficial arrogance is under control, she is insightful and hilarious, exposing her fears and insecurities. Name and event changes in order to keep the blog's anonymity are disappointing, a fiction within fiction, and raises the question, what is truth? On the Internet, who is really anonymous? Perhaps our dear Katie wasn't such an undiscovered gyrl after all. Burnett's novel is intriguing, but seems at times contrived. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Original edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307473120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307473127
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Allison Burnett is a novelist and screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and Evanston, Illinois, where he attended Northwestern University, majoring in the Oral Interpretation of Literature. His debut novel, Christopher, was a finalist for the 2004 PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction. The first installment of the B.K. Troop Trilogy, it was followed up by The House Beautiful in 2006 and Death By Sunshine in 2011. His third novel, Undiscovered Gyrl, was published by Vintage Books in 2009. The film version, Ask Me Anything, written and directed by Allison, was released in December 2014. Allison's latest novel is The Escape of Malcolm Poe, published in 2014 by Writers Tribe Books.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By T. Adlam TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I firmly believe that books should stir emotions, whether they be good or bad. A book, or story, that incites a reader is a book that will oft be remembered and discussed. Of course, when the book is highly subjective or provocative, it runs the chance of being wildly loved or hated. This is one of those books.

It begins with a seventeen year old girl named Katie Kampenfelt who decides to defer her collegiate career for a year and blogs about her experience. Of course, Katie Kampenfelt is not her real name and she has a penchant for speaking her mind, unfiltered. She describes explicitly her alcohol and drug abuse, her dysfunctional relationship with her boyfriend, and her affairs with older men (one of whom was married and the other almost so).

Within the first fifty pages, it became clear to me that Katie was an amalgamation of so many different types of people. And her candor was apt to offend most, if not everyone, who read the entries. There were racial, political, and socioeconomic pejoratives strewn throughout. There was even an allusion (I believe, but could be mistaken) to a character from 'The L Word'. All of this makes Katie easy to dislike.

Despite that and the eye-popping moments, the book was easy to read. The voice was casual and light and there were moments of true lucidity. For instance, when she's discussing narcissism with "Dan" or when she's learning something from "Paul" or "Glenn", it's apparent that Katie, on a deeper level, wants more from her life, but doesn't know where to look for it.

What pulled me out of the story at times was the contrivance of some of her spelling errors and writing quirks.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Book Girl on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Allison Burnett's UNDISCOVERED GYRL is a must read.

Written in blog format, this novel can easily be read in one sitting, but what happens throughout it will stay in your mind for a long time after. Katie Kampenfelt is our blogger: an 18-year old high school graduate, taking a year off before starting college. Katie chronicles her day-to-day life as many teen girls would; however, the content of Katie's blog becomes gradually more intense and disturbing as time passes. Without revealing too much, Katie encounters the highest of highs and the lowest of lows: drug use, success at work, alcohol abuse, betrayal in friendships, passionate crushes, casual sex and death of loved ones.

On the surface, UNDISCOVERED GYRL appears to be superficial or over the top, yet Burnett captures the voice of a teenage girl extremely well - whether stable or not. Katie is a perfect candidate for psychological analysis, and much of the text pieces together why she continually makes self-destructive decisions. While her actions are impulsive and indulgent, readers are given her voice, raw and honest, and are shown her vulnerabilities, left to decide for themselves between conflicting emotions: detesting Katie, sympathizing with Katie, laughing at or with Katie, wanting to parent Katie, wanting to stop Katie from seemingly ruining everything in her life and the lives of others around her, etc.

It is almost impossible to discuss this book without discussing it in its entirety, so without spoiling it, I can only say that Burnett delivers an ending that would be almost infuriating if it weren't so plausible and effective. Plausible in that it makes sense after all Katie has been through.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Lynn Goodwin on November 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
"Just so you know, if I thought there was even a one in a google chance of anyone recognizing me from this blog, I would never ever be this honest. And what's the point of blogging if you're not going to tell the truth? A blog should be better than your life not the same," Katie Kampenfelt writes in Allison Burnett's debut novel, Undiscovered Gyrl.

Katie has taking a year off between high school and college. She is searching for her true passion, and invites blog readers to watch as she tells her deepest, darkest secrets with teenage exaggeration, spirit, and wit, as well as unexpected insight. Author Allison Burnett makes me wonder if blogging could be the new and improved True Confessions.

We learn that Katie's only friends are the anonymous strangers who follow her blog. She writes about smoking weed with her boyfriend, Rory, and her nights with a thirty-two year old film professor, Dan. She is sexually provocative and flagrantly, bluntly honest. She writes to confess, to shock, and to share everything she can never say face-to-face.

People write back, occasionally to compliment but often to denigrate her. As the year progresses, she leaves her cushy job at a local bookstore, is rejected by the engaged film professor, and becomes a nanny who gives fringe benefits when the mom takes a job. Katie is drawn into increasingly dark and dangerous places, and she only shares her recklessness with her online audience.

Burnett has seamless slid into a new genre. Undiscovered Gyrl is more than a blog, not exactly a novel, and far from a memoir. It's a delightful treat as well as an enticing exploration of privacy, identity, and contemporary times. I read it voraciously and was blown away by an ending that will make your jaw drop. Don't miss this one.

NOTE: This review originally ran on Writer Advice[...]

B. Lynn Goodwin
[...]
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