I never knew that I would enjoy comedy in written form; the art of stand-up has successfully been delivered through an in-person or visual/audio experience, but The Girl Least Likely was a wonderful way to explore that joyful experience on the page.
The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser is a fun examination of popular tropes in fiction, specifically those we find in the romance genre. We follow our protagonist, the reserved 17-year-old Gretchen Wilder, as she navigates one of the most horrendous events that can happen to a young adult: falling in love with none other than her best friend, Sam. To make matters worse, he is soon moving out of state to New York. In an attempt to distract herself from her woes, Gretchen accompanies her sister and their cousin to The Chuckle Parlor for a night of laughs and drinking.
After her cousin steals her roommate’s ID, the three girls work to turn Gretchen into the quirky, red-framed glasses-wearing, Princess Leia dual-bun wielding Sabrina Martin to hide Gretchen’s underaged status. What was meant to be one night of drinking and comedy turns into a huge case of mistaken identity as Gretchen finds herself entered into a stand-up competition under the name of her alter ego and catches the eye of resident bad boy, Jeremy. However, the deeper she finds herself in her double life, the less Gretchen wants to let it go. Gretchen must discover who she really is when not acting as Sabrina Martin, and The Girl Least Likely follows her journey in accepting her true self, chasing stories worth telling, and possibly even finding love.
Shifting the art of stand-up comedy into a written experience could have easily gone wrong. As the title of the practice suggests, stand-up serves best as a visual (and at times, audio) medium to best entertain an audience. Yet, Loutzenhiser’s sense of comedic timing in The Girl Least Likely works for this new approach to comedy in fiction.
I loved reading the outline and loose definition of different literary tropes at the beginning of each chapter; it was a wonderful way to be foretold about what trope to expect in the upcoming pages, but still be pleasantly dazzled by seeing them come into fruition. I can never get enough of the “You Were Lying the Whole Time?” and “Best Friend Crush” scenes in books and film, and I adored seeing how Loutzenhiser tied all of these popular tropes together into a cohesive, heartwarming plot.
Gretchen Wilder reminded me a lot of myself during high school, and I feel like many young adults will relate to her in the same way. Maybe not in the case of whimsically entering into a stand-up comedy competition, but I definitely relate to the impulse of forging yourself into a false identity because you believe people like that persona better, adapting it to the point where you even believe that this persona is who you are. Everyone undergoes a hard journey of self-love; some reach that point sooner than others in life, and it can be a very lonely and painful experience. Yet, The Girl Least Likely, for all the hilarity and young love elements in the novel, really shines light on this struggle and offers hope that self-acceptance can make itself known in everyone’s life, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment.
If you are looking for a book that will fill your night with laughs, love, and uplifting messages of self-worth, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Girl Least Likely today!
The Girl Least Likely by Katy Loutzenhiser was published on June 29th, 2021.