Review: Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl

Margo Zimmerman Gets the Girl

by Brianna R. Shrum & Sara Waxelbaum

Inkyard Press (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), 2023

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Dena Bach

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Margo Zimmerman thought she knew who she was and who she would be. She was the popular, high-achieving, fashion-loving, student council president, champion swimmer, and future veterinarian, who's dating the quarterback of the football team. That was until a game of spin the bottle sends her into a tailspin. When Margo ends up kissing a girl, she has an epiphany — she’s gay. Margo has always been well prepared for every aspect of her life, but she has no idea “how to be gay.” After failing with the advice given to her by her queer brother Mendel, Margo approaches Abbie Sokoloff, a fellow swim team member who is decidedly not one of her many friends. Uncharacteristically awkward, Margo says to Abbie “You’re gay…I want you to teach me…how to be gay.” 

In this zippy, readable, queer rom-com, once Abbie begins these lessons with Margo in exchange for Margo tutoring her for the AP history class she is failing, sparks fly between the seemingly mismatched pair. Alternately voiced by the two authors, as Abbie and Margo spar with each other, each also learns from the other.

Both protagonists, and many of the other players in this narrative, are proudly Jewish and proudly queer. While their Jewishness is more character trait than central to the plot, there are mentions of fasting on Yom Kippur, not eating “treyf," and Sephardic families as early American settlers. Though these details may not rise to the level of eligibility for a Sydney Taylor Book Award, the Jewish content is generally positive. With frank discussions of sexuality, the narrative is more appropriate for more mature readers. While some of the humor in this narrative is queer-centric, the light tone also contains a lesson for all readers, Jewish or not, queer or not: that even those who appear to be insiders can struggle to fit in.
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Reviewer Dena Bach has a BFA in illustration from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and an MA/MFA in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children from Simmons University. Currently the illustration editor of The Shmooze, she has been a bookseller, bookkeeper, papermaker, calligrapher, fine artist, illustrator, and teacher of children from ages two to fourteen.