Author: Jody Gehrman
Publication Date: February 17, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Natalie is Dr. Aphrodite - the love guru for her high school paper. But Natalie's relationship advice is totally bombing, especially when it comes to knowing what guys really think and want. When she tries to investigate, the guys in her class won't give her serious or straight answers.
The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boys boarding school in town. There "Nat" learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected - especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?
Natalie is a fun character to follow. She is determined to do what she must in order to get her story, which is admirable. Upon going undercover and disguising herself as a boy, she transforms from girlish and confident to graceless and unsure, since she has no idea how to act like a guy, and there are plenty of laughs to be had at her expense. She's also got an enjoyable cast of characters around her. Her two best friends are awesome - one quirky and sweet, one bitchy but endearing. The guys at Underwood come in all varieties, from geeky but lovable social leper to dreamboat to jerk face.
The first third or so of the novel is a little slower than the rest because Natalie isn't at Underwood for that part - it's groundwork and preparation for the undercover work, and is less interesting by comparison. Once she arrives at Underwood the story picks up considerably as its amusing and awkward factors multiply. Natalie faces plenty of challenges undercover and the absurdity of it all is constantly entertaining. The bits involving Nat and Emilio and the torture that it presents to Natalie are awkward in a fun way. I do wish we could've gotten another few scenes involving the two of them, because I enjoyed those, but I don't necessarily feel that more of them was needed to make the story work. I felt her frustration at being disguised as a boy and by the end I couldn't wait for Natalie to get to be a girl again. The plot is a little predictable, but the shenanigans more than make up for that.
Babe in Boyland is a lively and delightful book. If you saw and liked the movie She's the Man (a re-imagining of Twelfth Night) with Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, then you would probably like this book as well. Or if, like me, you just can't help but love a good girl-disguised-as-boy heroine.