Confidence: the Diary of an Invisible Girl

6.7 Overall Score
Writing: 7/10
Editing: 7/10
Characters: 6/10

Your inner fangirl will squee | Fandom references | Awkwardly adorable protagonist | Positive messages about self-esteem | An honest look at geek scene | Excellent for reluctant readers

Some editing mistakes | Cliche and troped in places | Lacks a deep exploration of the characters' identities | Overly dramatic

Confidence: the Diary of an Invisible Girl

Author: Paige Lavoie

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Genre: Slice of Life, Journal, Contemporary, Geek

Confidence: the Diary of an Invisible Girl is often as clever and quirky as its three-way title:

1. Confidence (noun): a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
2. Confidence (noun): secret or private matter told to someone under a condition of trust.
3. Confidence (noun): see the “Con” in there? That’s intentional. 😉

It’s a nerdy little book that your inner geek can “squee” over… and one that could sit suitably on your shelf alongside Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

The story follows the antics of lifelong geek, Barbara Jenkins, on her journal-led journey of self-discovery, first love, hidden secrets, and the Con scene. As a protagonist, Barbara is entertaining and charming in an awkward, over-the-top sort of way, and anyone who’s ever immersed themselves in a fandom will connect with her instantly. Her advent into the Con scene is conveyed with utter, spell-binding candor.

Paige Lavoie author

In that sense, Confidence strikes a delicate balancing act. It doesn’t attempt to paint the geek scene as a haven, nor does it deceptively transform itself into a tale about moving on from fandom, as though the geek scene were some delusion ensnaring the main character(s) from the “real world.” Instead, Confidence addresses fandom with open honesty and positivity, as something that leads to the main character’s empowerment over time and climaxes in a message of celebrating uniqueness in the geek community.

That being said, this is one book that doesn’t side-step those hairy issues that make the geek scene an occasionally uncomfortable place—things like slash and yoai fanfiction, creepy Con-goers, flirty cosplayers oversexualizing certain characters, and the inherent stereotyping that comes with the Furry community.

Confidence doesn’t pretend that these issues don’t exist, but it very rarely takes a condemning stance on them, allowing the individual opinions of its cast to paint the perspectives, apart from the author’s voice. Just when it seems the novel is bent on bashing Furries, for example, one of the central characters is revealed to be one. That doesn’t keep the other characters from finding the overall concept of Furries a bit creepy—and using the wearing of the Furry costume as the penalty for losing a Mario Kart match on Rainbow Road—but neither does it affect this character’s status or her friend’s perceptions of her. These “grey areas” of the geek scene are treated with down-to-earth realism.

The humor hits home with nearly every attempt—everything from Barbara fanaticizing about “having adorable time lord babies” to complaining about math class:

It’s only the second day of school, and we’re already looking for X and Y? The only X and Y I want to be searching for are in my Pokémon game!

Much of the humor centers around geeky references, which, more often than not, tie in as illustrations or help establish Barbara’s whimsical perspective. Confidence avoids over-reliance on these references for comedic value, however, and just as commonly builds humor from the awkward, assume-first-ask-questions-later mindset of the protagonist.

Geeks will find a treasure trove of fandom references packed into nearly every page of Confidence. You’d think that this would water down the content of the novel, and while the occasional allusion to geekery does feel tacked on, most of them come across naturally.

Nor are these references too far-fetched. Anyone who spends at least ten hours making annual pilgrimages to Cons will find themselves familiar enough with the diverse fandoms referenced within Confidence in order to follow their logic—everything from Sonic Screwdrivers, to Bronies, to GLaDOS, to Bruce Banner. The average geek reader won’t feel lost in the midst of the fandom frenzies, though it’s possible that the barrage of cultural references will either (1) educate or (2) befuddle a less nerdy audience.

At its worst, there are times when Confidence can be overbearing. Particularly in regards to romance, there’s just far too much drama going on, with no less than six romantic plotlines coexisting at once. At least the story is smart enough to be self-aware, as Barbara writes in her journal one day:

Cassie is mad at Bette. Fred likes Bette. Eloise likes Fred. Bette’s with Darren… and Darren’s cheating on her. Not to mention that sleazebag Ivy. And why is Andy letting her be such a jerk to me? I thought we were friends. Is this what friendship is like—an endless cycle of love triangles, drama, fights, and heartache?

All the same, there’s an undeniable charm to that romance because it’s so silly and troped in places. Barbara’s end-game boyfriend heroically saves her from some bullies; afterwards their hands accidentally touch and linger while both of them reach for the same object. The romance is often cliché in a Disney-esque, high-school-drama sort of way, which on one hand is eye-rolling, and on the other hand fits ironically well with the goofiness of the protagonist and her far-flung fantasies.

Some of the character developments seem to come from left field and are difficult to take at face value. For example, one central character confesses to being gay at a climatic point in the book, but there’s no real lead-up outside of said character not having a boyfriend or showing any real interest in boys. It’s clearly a big moment for this character, and she expresses a fear of rejection upon revealing her sexual orientation; however, the theme is more-or-less dropped afterwards. Interweaving this reveal into the story (looking at how she finds acceptance of her sexual identity within geek culture VS the real world, for example) might have made this a worthwhile theme to explore (albeit one that might have taken away from the protagonist’s own journey of self-discovery).

51tVIRiH-6L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Confidence, like its adorably awkward protagonist, may be over-the-top in ways that could incite an eye roll from more grounded readers; however, it’s also a highly relatable tale—one that anyone who’s had long-term experience in a fandom will instantly relate to.

At its heart is a message about learning to accept yourself—quirky faults and all—and what you love, about celebrating the unique walks of life and experiences that come with the geek scene, and about understanding that being a geek isn’t something childish or silly, but something that builds, shapes, and empowers us to face the not-so-fictional things in our everyday lives.

And that’s something worth geeking out about.

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Author: Casey Covel View all posts by
Casey Lynn Covel (known online as “Cutsceneaddict”) is an award-winning, published writer, avid reader, and aspiring author. She runs a nerdy writing blog called Meek-Geek and founded PROJECT: Magic Kingdom Hearts in 2012. When she’s not writing for Geeks Under Grace, Florida Geek Scene, Beneath the Tangles, or FROM JAPAN, she enjoys cosplaying, and has won several awards for her work. Follow her on Instagram for her latest cosplay endeavors. #meekischic

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