review by Kira Toal, age 15

The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfred

    The Nerdy and the Dirty by B.T. Gottfred follows two high schoolers who are tired of hiding their true identities. Penelope Lupo may seem agreeable and quiet, but on the inside, she is a bold and opinionated girl with perspectives on sex that she fears could alienate her from her friends and strict, heavily religious parents. Benedict Pendleton, on the other hand, is a “nerd” with a massive ego who desperately wishes to become popular. When Benedict and Pen end up at the same resort during winter vacation, they find themselves falling in love with each other, despite all of their differences, as they struggle between their genuine personalities and their long-held facades.
   Have you ever read a book where you were waiting for a plot twist or some meaningful or exciting event to occur, until you reach the last page and realize that nothing really happened throughout the whole book? One of my biggest issues with The Nerdy and the Dirty was that it was lacking a plot. It felt more like a character study than a novel to me, and because characters are such an important part of any story, I typically wouldn’t have minded this. Unfortunately, Pen and Benedict were extremely bland characters. Much of their relationship felt forced, and as a high school student, I can confirm that most of their words and actions were absurdly exaggerated, but not in a comedic manner. It was clear to me that the author was trying to write a high school romance where seemingly archetypal characters defied their stereotypes and sought to uncover their true identities, but the characters and the plot kept falling into the same cliches.
I was told that this supposedly young adult novel was aimed at 14-18 year olds, but I would feel downright uncomfortable suggesting this book to any 14 year old. The book is completely full of references to drugs, abuse, and sex. It also features multiple scenes of Pen, a teenage girl, masturbating. Now, I understand that sex isn’t something that needs to be shunned completely from young adult novels. Some of my favorite books such as Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Bluest Eye use sex and masturbation as vehicles by which to uncover societal truths or make crucial statements about characters and their developments. The scenes in The Nerdy and the Dirty failed to accomplish any of these, and so the book was left with several awkward, cringe worthy scenes of underage high schoolers having sex.
   Though I hated this book, it’s worth mentioning that this high school drama/romantic comedy genre is a far cry from the thriller and horror novels that I usually read, so you may wish to take this review with a grain of salt. However, although I tried to be open minded, I could not get past the lacking plot, the absence of interesting characters, and the romanticization of underage sex and drug abuse that plagued this book, and so I give The Nerdy and the Dirty 1.5/5 stars.

Find this book in our catalog: The Nerdy and the Dirty


292 pages

More recommendations 

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett — teen review
The Secret of a Heart Note — teen review
We All Looked Up — YA book club

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