I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

Published by Balzer + Bray on October 18 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads: Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She's starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying. So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend Jesse dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it's time to use The Formula for herself. She'll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win Jesse back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

What is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl?

 If you're still a little unclear on the concept, a MPDG is (as per Wikipedia) "female characters who have eccentric personality quirks and are unabashedly girlish. They invariably serve as the romantic interest for a (most often brooding or depressed) male protagonist. "Urban Dictionary adds: "A pretty, outgoing, wacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives. " As characters, they're often underdeveloped (beyond the quirkiness of course)...

Excerpt from I'm Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl:

Somewhere between the lobster scene from Annie Hall and when the goob from Garden State told Natalie Portman that she’d literally changed his life in four days (seriously?), I had a revelation.

The wacky outfits.

The unexpected actions.

The positive feedback loop.

The relentlessly sunny dispositions.

Manic pixie dream girl was a formula.


“Mmhm.” He was curled up on his side next to me in bed, head cradled in the crook of his arm, half-asleep. Apparently, the manic pixie marathon hadn’t circumvented his need for a weekend nap.

“Wake up, Princess,” I said, patting his cheek.

“Did you open my thumb drive?” he muttered.

“Not yet. I’ve got some science to lay down on you.”

He yawned. “Already laying down.”

I pushed myself off the bed and planted both hands on the mattress, then shook it violently.

“It’s the big one! Duck and cover!”

Spencer jolted awake, flailing his arms as he rolled off the edge of the mattress, collapsing in a heap on the floor.

“Oh shit!” I leaped across the bed and peered down on him, a tangle of limbs. “Are you okay?”

Spencer sat up and ran his fingers through his hair. “Not funny.”

“I don’t know. It was, kinda.”

He pushed his palm against my forehead and rolled me back onto the bed. “Oh yeah? How do you like it?” Then he pounced on top the mattress and jumped up and down in his bare feet.

The headboard banged against the wall and the metal legs groaned in protest.

“Stop!” I shrieked through my laughter. “You’ll bust through the floor.”

“It’s the big one!” he cried, mimicking me. “Duck and cover!”

“Cut it out!” I grabbed Spencer’s leg while he was midjump and yanked it toward me. He lost his balance and came crashing down on top of me; his elbow barely missed knocking out a couple of my teeth.

“You wanna play rough?” Spencer asked, trying to sound mean but coming off more like a Disney villain. Then he went for my weak spot: my feet. He grabbed my legs together, flipping me onto my stomach, then wiggled his fingers lightly on the soles of my feet. “Vee have vays uf making you talk,” he said, using a fake German accent.

“Stop!” I was laughing so hard tears were welling up in my eyes.

“Oh!” Spencer said, feigning surprise. “You want me to stop?” He tickled my feet again, and I let out a howl. “Are you sure?” Then he leaned back so he could see my face.

I took advantage of his lapse in concentration and twisted my torso, ripping my legs from his grip, then I went for his ticklish weak spot: the side of his stomach.
“Payback’s a bitch.”

I heard a creak on the stairs. “Anak?” my mom called up. “Is everything okay?”

We froze, limbs tangled. “Fine, Mom!”

“Don’t call me that,” she snapped from the other side of my bedroom door.

 I looked up at Spencer, who pressed his lips together to silence his snickering, then composed myself. “I’m fine, Flordeliza.”

“Good.” Then the stairs creaked again as she retreated.

I lay there panting, Spencer hovering over me. His goofy, toothy grin reminded me of the younger, smaller version of the guy I’d known for so many years. As I stared up at him, the smile faded. His breaths slowed and deepened, and the muscles around his eyes softened. I thought maybe he’d roll to the other side of the mattress, but he stayed put, balancing over me with stiff, outstretched arms, his blue eyes locked onto mine.

I felt my face grow hot, and for the second time that week, I felt embarrassed with my best friend.

“Bea . . .”

I didn’t even give him a chance to finish. Something in my stomach gurgled and tightened, like I’d eaten raw eggs. Whatever I thought Spencer was about to say, it instilled an instantaneous panicked reaction, and I needed to do something—anything—to cut him off.

“I have a plan to get Jesse back,” I blurted out.

Every muscle in Spencer’s neck tensed up at once, giving him the wide, veiny look of a pro wrestler posing for the camera. His eyes darted away from my face as he pushed himself off me.

Excerpted from I'M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL © Copyright 2016 by Gretchen McNeil. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, a writer, and a clown. She is also the author of Get Even as well as Ten, which was a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and an ALA Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth and was nominated for Best Young Adult Contemporary Novel of 2012 by Romantic Times. Gretchen blogs with the Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels.


  1. OOHHH BEST FRIEND-LOVERS?? Is that the trope I'm seeing here because if so, SIGN ME UP, LIKE YESTERDAY! <3 I love this trope so much because it's so sweet to see the progression of their relationship as it changes. But, I hope they get together and that she doesn't end up getting back with her boyfriend in the end because THAT WOULD GIVE ME A BIG SAD. BIG TIME.

    1. My lips are zipped but I think you should try this!

  2. Replies
    1. lol had to look her up, but she sure seems like one :)

  3. Cheyenne from Scar Boys!! Ugh, beautiful

    1. Going to have to look her up too - thanks for offering up some new names :)

  4. Currently it's Bishop in The Book of Ivy. Swoon. Wait, I think I'm old enough to be his mom. Oh well, it's just a dream :)

    1. Yes, there can be MPDBoys. Thanks for stopping by, Crystal!

  5. My favorite TV show is The 100! I couldn't choose a book!

    1. TV is fine -- trying to think if there are MPDG in that show...

  6. Jessica Day is my fave dream girl!

  7. Garden State came out when I was a sophmore in high school and it totally sucked me in. I haven't watched it in a while, but I have a feeling Natalie Portman would be mine- her outfits weren't that weird and it was more Zach Braff's character being ridiculous than anything ( 4 days and your life is changed? come on mister)

    1. I enjoyed the movie, but yes, I think she definitely qualifies. My tip-off is if the female character really has no other agency or purpose except to change the life of the guy. Ugh!

  8. Natalie Portman in Garden State is my fave MPDG. She is considered one right???

  9. My favorite MPDG is Eunice from She's the Man. She is super quirky and even though most of the people at her school think she is really weird, she is still kind and generous with them.

  10. Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim or Jordan Roark from My Sassy Girl! Both are great!

  11. My first real Manic Pixie Dream Girl was Alaska in Looking for Alaska and she remains a favorite.

    1. Yes - John Green books often feature them!

  12. I AM SUPER EXCITED TO READ THIS! It sounds awesome and the cover is super cool!

    xx Anisha (https://sprinkledpages.blogspot.com.au)

  13. I'm intrigued by this one. I don't really like MPDG's but if it puts a spin on the trope I think I would enjoy it.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  14. Zooey Deschanel plays them a lot -- besides Jessica Day, there's her character in 500 Days of Summer.


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