Nonfiction · Review · Young Adult

Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser

Girl Code by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie HouserPublisher: Harper

Pub. Date: 2017

Genres: Memoir, YA

Pages: 272

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Do you remember the teen girls who created Tampon Run, the game where you run and throw tampons at enemies? If you don’t, you missed out on that awesome news in 2014. Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done follows Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser on their Tampon Run journey, self-discovery, and computer programming.

As Andy and Sophie mention, coding is used to make many of the machines in our lives run. Our blogs are made with code, whether we know it or not. That is one of the first lessons in their shared summer programming class.

As they develop Tampon Run, I liked that they described their challenges with developing the game and the issues they explored in coming up with this idea. They realized how few women are in programming and the issues that society does not talk about in relation to women. They explored those issues in their own lives and from what the media threw at them.

The authors of this book also share personal challenges they went through on this journey. Andy learns when it is okay to ask for help and sees that she can do more than she thought with her programming ability. Sophie has to learn to get over her fear of public speaking and networks. They take advantage of the opportunities available and make their own opportunities.

What I liked about this book:

  • I like the selected timeline of events for keeping a cohesive story and demonstrating that their lives are not defined by this one video game.
  • Their learning experiences at the Girls Who Code summer program reminded me of my first CS class. They had to create their first “Hello World” program and the Fizz Buzz program. Fizz Buzz prints numbers between 1 and 100, but numbers divisible by 3 should say “Fizz”, numbers divisible by 5 should say “Buzz”, and numbers divisible by both 3 and 5 should say “Fizz Buzz”. Their reactions to and their successes and failures with solving their assignments felt more authentic because of this.
  • The theme of empowerment
  • We see some of the personal issues going on in Andy’s and Sophie’s lives.
  • Aesthetically, I love the images they include. The beginning of every chapter has a picture of the heroine of Tampon Run, Luna. I also liked the black-and-white photos of the girls and the screenshots of their code and finished programs.
  • Bonus: The book includes an appendix on coding. As someone who has taken a couple of CS classes, I think this is useful if you want to get started in coding.

What I did not like about this book:

  • It felt choppy with the switches in perspectives. I understand why it is broken up this way, but the transitions did not work well.
  • A lot was left unsaid about coding and the menstrual taboo, but they shared a lot.

If you want to see YA books about programming and see real life examples of women in programming, you should read Girl Code. If you want a book with strong themes of feminism, this is a good book to read.

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