REVIEW: I Think I Could Make An Ok PI and Other Thoughts on 'The Girl With The Gold Bikini' By Lisa Walker
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
I’m wrapping up my weird review blog birthday week with a review of ‘The Girl With The Gold Bikini’ by Lisa Walker. Thank you for all your love that you’ve all given myself and my blog over the past year. A huge thanks to Wakefield Press for providing me a review copy for my honest thoughts on the book.
CONTENT WARNING: sexual assault (non descriptive, light sexism and fat shaming)
Whenever I see a girl with a gold bikini, I think of Princess Leia. Here on the Gold Coast, gold bikinis are common, so I think of Princess Leia a lot.
Eighteen-year-old Olivia Grace has deferred her law degree and ducked out of her friends’ gap-year tour of Asia. Instead, she’s fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a private investigator, following in the footsteps of Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars – who taught her everything she knows, including a solid line in quick-quipping repartee, the importance of a handbag full of disguises, and a way of mixing business with inconvenient chemistry.
Playing Watson to the Sherlock of her childhood friend, detective agency owner Rosco (once the Han Solo to her Princess Leia), Olivia pursues a routine cheating husband case from the glitzy Gold Coast to Insta-perfect Byron Bay, where she faces yoga wars, dirty whale activism, and a guru who’s kind of a creep.
Olivia Grace is a teenage screwball heroine for the #metoo era, and The Girl with the Gold Bikini is a body-positive detective romp, rich with pop-culture pleasures.
This book was first and foremost, heaps of fun. It was a pretty casual summer read and was able to be exciting and full of shenanigans while also covering serious topics.
My relationship with the heroine, Olivia Grace, was kind of a weird one. I really loved her voice for the most part and her personality was well developed and I just really love reading about confidently awkward dorks because I feel like that’s me a lot of the time. She also has no chill but in the best way possible. I did however feel that she didn’t exactly read as I imagine an 18 year old would. The stuff she gets up to just felt unrealistic a lot of the time and her inner voice was quite mature for the most part. If the book hadn’t outwardly stated that she was 18 and continued to reference university I honestly would’ve thought her to be around 25. This was still fine but I did find her less relatable because of it which was a bit of a bummer. Nevertheless, she is still someone who, if given the chance, I would totally want in my life because she’s fun and smart and brave and just *applauds*.
The actual plot of the book was a wild ride. For a pretty short book, a LOT happened. Which is actually great because I love a good fast paced read. The plot centres around Olivia as she works to solve a seemingly innocent cheating husband case but it is so much more than that. It evolves into something of a #metoo, animal rights case with what I consider to be an unhealthy amount of yoga (I mean, it is set in Byron Bay, yoga is EVERYWHERE there). Which leads me to my next point, I would be a tragically bad detective but all hope is not lost, I reckon I could be a decent enough private investigator and that’s enough for me. I also really appreciated all of the Nancy Drew/ Veronica Mars references, they were very, very cool.
The familiarity of the Australian setting was refreshing and it was so authentic that obscure references could be made and I would still get it which is always a big bonus.
I don’t know how much of a spoiler this is but I’m leaving it in because it’s important. Throughout the book, Olivia makes references to the time that she was sexually assaulted and her remaining trauma from that. It isn’t descriptive but it is there. I found that this serious issue was handled with great tact and understanding and it made some of her other motivations so much more important. The strides to recovering from her trauma were done well and I was so pleased to see her confidence and her willingness to get back out and do things was admirable. This was an important aspect of the book because it really harped on Olivia’s character ARC and it is also a message of hope for other survivors.
I am somewhat conflicted on the romantic aspect of this book. I liked her love interest well enough but I didn’t feel that there was much chemistry there and it just didn’t make sense at times. There were moments where they were cute together but I couldn’t help but think that they’d be better off as friends.
Overall, this was a fun, fast paced book in an authentically Australian setting. I’m rating it a 3.8/5.
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