Book Review | Girl Meets Boy

Another book for my Retellings Reading Challenge completed, I seem to be on a roll now after a bit of a late start and so far the books I have read have been excellent.

girl meets boy

Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But what happens when an old story meets a brand new set of circumstances?

Ali Smith’s re-mix of Ovid’s most joyful metamorphosis is a story about the kind of fluidity that can’t be bottled and sold.

It is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, a story of puns and doubles, reversals and revelations.

Funny and fresh, poetic and political, Girl Meets Boy is a myth of metamorphosis for the modern world.

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Girl Meets Boy is a short book but it really packs a punch. It is a retelling of a story in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Ligdus threatens to kill his unborn child if it is not a boy when his wife gives birth she conceals that their child is a girl and raises her as a boy. When Iphis falls in love with Ianthe, who her father has arranged for her to marry, she seeks the Gods help and they changed Iphis into a boy.

I always feel like I’ve unlocked another part to my brain when I read anything by Ali Smith, it feels to me like there is an existential quality in the way she writes but not in a way that seems forced. It really opens up my mind and makes me think a lot about the world and how I see it. I think the stream of conscious style of her writing is what really pushes my boundaries, I know that it is not for everyone and it can take some time to get used to but I soon find myself sucked in.

She has an amazing way of pulling you into the story and then pushing you back out again. The majority of the story is about sisters Imogen and Anthea; to which I got heavily invested; and then near the end, there is a section which adds a mythical element, which gave me a new consciousness of the book whilst reading. I can never get complacent when reading one of Smith’s books there is always something that changes the rhythm and keeps me on my toes.

At the heart of the book is a story about transformation but the topics it touches on are gender, sexuality, misogyny, and mental health. I think with this book particularly Ali Smith has shown that in many ways she is before her time, with ideas and concepts that the rest of us are only just catching up on and taking an interest in.

I won’t go into the story because I really do think its something you need to experience for yourself but I will say that Ali Smith’s writing is impeccable as ever, there are some unusual style choices in parts of the book, that I loved but I know that they won’t be for everyone.

As ever I am very much looking forward to my next Smith book.

Reviews of other books by Ali Smith
Public Library and Other Stories | Autumn

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