Geek Girl

Harriet Manners knows a lot of things... that bluebirds can’t see the colour blue, and peanuts are an ingredient of dynamite.

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her. So when she’s offered the chance to reinvent herself, Harriet grabs it.

Cover photographs © Quavondo/Getty Images (face); John Rensten/Getty Images (glasses & eyes); PhotoAlto/Alix Minde/Getty Images (mouth); (hair) Cover typography © Mary Kate Mcdevitt Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2013.


1. 1

geek/gi:k/h noun informal, chiefly N. Amer.
1 an unfashionable or socially inept person. 
2 an obsessive enthusiast. 
3 a person who feels the need to look up 
the word ‘geek’ in the dictionary.
derivatives geeky adjective.
origin from the related English dialect word 
geck ‘fool’.


My name is Harriet Manners, and I am a geek.

I know I’m a geek because I’ve just looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. I drew a little tick next to all the symptoms I recognise, and I appear to have them all. Which – and I should be perfectly honest here – hasn’t come as an enormous surprise. The fact that I have an Oxford English Dictionary on my bedside table anyway should have been one clue. That I keep a Natural History Museum pencil and ruler next to it so that I can neatly underline interesting entries should have been another.

Oh, and then there’s the word GEEK, drawn in red marker pen on the outside pocket of my school satchel. That was done yesterday.

I didn’t do it, obviously. If I did decide to deface my own property, I’d choose a poignant line from a really good book, or an interesting fact not many people know. And I definitely wouldn’t do it in red. I’d do it in black, or blue, or perhaps green. I’m not a big fan of the colour red, even if it is the longest wavelength of light discernible by the human eye.

To be absolutely candid with you, I don’t actually know who decided to write on my bag – although I have my suspicions – but I can tell you that their writing is almost illegible. They clearly weren’t listening during our English lesson last week when we were told that handwriting is a very important Expression of the Self. Which is quite lucky because if I can just find a similar shade of pen, I might be able to slip in the letter R in between G and E. I can pretend that it’s a reference to my interest in ancient history and feta cheese.

I prefer Cheddar, but nobody has to know that.

Anyway, the point is: as my satchel, the anonymous vandal and the Oxford English Dictionary appear to agree with each other, I can only conclude that I am, in fact, a geek.

Did you know that in the old days the word ‘geek’ was used to describe a carnival performer who bit the head off a live chicken or snake or bat as part of their stage act?

Exactly. Only a geek would know a thing like that. I think it’s what they call ironic.

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