THE SHE CODE
By Chris Marie Green
Summary: Meet Mandy Halsey, fresh out of college and determined to go from being a receptionist at the assembly line comic book house where she works to being a real-live penciler by the end of the year. That’s the plan, anyway.
But life isn’t cooperating. First, her job feels like a dead end. Second, her personal life isn’t exactly on fire, either, especially since her best friend seems to be moving in on every guy who catches Mandy’s eye. Is it just Mandy’s imagination or has Sheila totally changed since graduation, becoming someone who’s almost a stranger?
No way, because the BFFs grew up with The She Code. See, girls have rules with each other, so surely the friend Mandy grew up with wouldn’t ever break the Code—and break Mandy’s heart at the same time…
“The She Code: A tacit blood oath between females of the human race, taken the first time they notice the difference between Ken and Barbie.”
You know that feeling, the one you get when you finally, finally, read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf forever, the one that’s called out to you over and over again “Psst, read me!”? Yet, you passed it over for something glossier or more popular at the time. Then, one day you find yourself reaching for it, you turn to page one…and BAM! You’re suddenly completely enveloped in the world that the author created, laughing, crying, and nodding your head frantically at all the moments that are exactly on target.
World, meet The She Code, by Chris Marie Green. Green gifted me this delightful New Adult novel over 6 months ago and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve just now read it. But, the joke’s on me because I’ve been ignoring one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
There’s nothing to dislike and everything to love about The She Code. This coming of age story about Mandy Halsey—new college grad, aspiring comic book artist, and woman scorned—is real and funny, and at times, heartbreaking. Green adeptly takes on all the important relationships of a 22-year-old’s life: parents, best friends, ex-boyfriends, potential boyfriends, and coworkers. There’s no sexy billionaire ready to sweep her off her feet, Mandy doesn’t fall into that Mary Sue template where she works a high powered job during the day and builds houses for the homeless at night. There’s just the story of an amazing young woman who could easily be me or you.
Told from Mandy’s POV, the book opens at a company party where she has her first inkling that all is not right between her and her best friend. From there we learn about Mandy’s trust issues stemming from the double whammy of a cheating dad and cheating ex-boyfriend. We get a sometimes hilarious look at her passive-aggressive behavior, which has played a part in all her decisions, especially those she didn’t make. We learn more about Shelia, who Mandy’s known since grade school but has changed since returning from her graduation trip, and not for the better. Most importantly, we meet Luka, Mandy’s alter ego, wolf/human/vampire, kickass star of the comic panels that are spread throughout the book.
The She Code is deceptively lighthearted with strong, well-rounded characters that author Green effortlessly brings to life. Through Mandy’s eyes (and ill-fated she code) we see how relationships, trust, and our choices are all interconnected and that once we understand that, we can finally appreciate who we are. It’s sort of like 250 pages of therapy, only cheaper. And funnier. Most importantly, we meet a young woman who finds herself reflected in her art—and those that really see her for who she really is.