Review of Olivia Gatwood's New American Best Friend (Button Poetry, 2017)


Do you think you have what it takes to be Olivia Gatwood’s New American Best Friend?

a quiz by Angie Romines


I bought Olivia Gatwood’s poetry collection, New American Best Friend, after seeing her viral video performance of “Ode to My Bitch Face." Reading through her collection was like taking a time machine back to my own girlhood. When my friends and I were young’uns still waiting for our boobs to really come in, we’d spend summers up at my friend’s grandma’s lake house, sipping room temperature wine coolers and flipping through Cosmo and Glamour. We’d take quizzes to find out whether we were “marriage material” and giggle our way through ridiculous sex tips (somehow always involving ice cubes). Gatwood's book captures the absurdity, excitement, and underlying darkness of many of these girlhood experiences. Using Gatwood’s themes and her unflinching and beautiful lines (in italics), I’ve created a Cosmo-style quiz that will help you discover just how many ice cubes are too many.  



Do you think you have what it takes to be Olivia Gatwood’s New American Best Friend?

Take this quiz to find out!


1.     Zoinks! Aunt Flo has come to visit a little early, but you’ve got wet n’ wild summer plans today. What do you do?

a.     Slide your period underwear up [your] winter legs and try again next week. Maybe no one could get rid of the blood.

b.     Just be thankful that you are the keeper of a thousand / not-pregnant surprise parties.

c.     Time to call in the reinforcements: Jordan, Blood Scholar, in a turquoise bikini / saying, “Now you are ready to swim.”

d.     Ooo, girl, better grab a Super. You don’t want the ruin of the ritual spill to keep you from getting your base tan.

e.     With plastic syringe in hand, [] wedge[] the packed cotton into [you]; / before blacking out and collapsing onto the tile—


2.     You’ve got frenemy trouble and that’s a real bummer. How do you handle the situation with the class and poise of a real lady?

a.     Be like some party bitch blowing mean confetti. Sometimes a girl’s just gotta take the low road.

b.     Tell her she smell[s] like piss on a good day. Petty AF but, hey, life’s too short.

c.     Can you flip the script and find a way to admire her? Like props to Elise, who melted the tip / of her eyeliner pencil / and let it sizzle / in her tight line.

d.     Have you tried making sacrifices? You can sit with her at lunch / as long as [you] never play cricket again.

e.     Go on an adventure together. [J]ump on a water pipe / until it cracks in half and a stream / as thick as a can of Coke shoots so high we think, / for a moment, it might never come / back down…What a strange sight, two soaked girls /  wandering around a parched city. Think of the heads you’ll turn, and the memories you’ll make together.


3.     Screw the Starks. Winter’s over, bitch! What are you going to do about those Sasquatch gams?

a.     Grab a razor and do it like your mother taught you how to skin a potato in six perfect strokes.

b.     This is a job for Sarah, who taught you how to prop up [your] leg on the side of the tub / and run[] the blade along [your] thigh. “See?” she says, “Isn’t that so much better?

c.     Shave, exfoliate, then pull [your] hair back into a taut bun and / polish [your] calves with [your] mother’s lotion.

d.     Beg[ your] mother for hot wax.

e.     Pray[] no boy would call [you] beast.


4.     Ugh, girl, have you seen yourself? It’s makeover time! What’s your perfect shade of blush?

a.     Blush so pink the model dips her finger in the jar / and slides it across her cupcake cheeks

b.     Blush so pink daddy says, / ”those are some pink cheeks.”

c.     Blush so pink I take it to the paint store.

d.     Blush so pink like rash, infection / so pink like itch and burn

e.     None of the above. You’re a winter, so stay away from warm, pink tones.


5.     Is your man a skeeze-ball or the real deal?

a.     johnny is the kind of guy who sleeps with a gun, not a woman.

b.     [He] opens his trunk and says, / “Bet you’re small enough to fit.”

c.      you agree to do it if he lets you lie on your side / you tell him it hurts less this way…the boy goes fast and apologizes…he pulls your hair back from your face / says, “thank you, i needed that. i’m hungry, let’s eat.”

d.     i bounce a coin off the rim of the / shot glass and let johnny slice me open.

e.      All of the boys said, “Hallelujah,” suggested trust falls. / All of the boys held out their hands.


6.     What’s wrong with your face, bitch / your face, bitch, what’s wrong with it?

a.     Your throat is full of bees.

b.     Your head spun three-sixty / exorcist bitch just trying to buy a soda.

c.     Turns out, you’re just trying to do the laundry / just trying to dance at the party.

d.     A man told you to smile, so you unleash[ed] the swarm into [his] mouth.

e.     All of the above



If you answered mostly A’s:

Learn how to love quieter, circus girl/it’s making us all sick.

If you answered mostly B’s:

The convenient thing about being a magical woman / is that [you] can be gone as quickly as  

[you] came.

If you answered mostly C’s:

Yikes, sorry to say that you are a trash river lady. [You] make the train smell like gowanus.

If you answered mostly D’s:

Webster defines you as inflated or swelled, which is to say you should always be just that, / fat with blood and want even in the quiet / of the work day…and yes, many will call you profanity, diminish you / to a whisper, but this is an ode to your double s, / in quiet gossip like a dog whistle, punching / through the veil of night.

If you answered mostly E’s:

Bury a lighter in [your] fist, / so that if [you] ever t[ake you] shot / at least [you won’t] break [your] hand on her pretty, pretty face. 

Angie Romines teaches English at The Ohio State University where she received her MFA in 2009. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Bookends Review, Silver Pen Youth Imagination Magazine, Literary Mama, Blinders Literary Journal, and other places. She is currently working on a magical realism novel set in Eastern Kentucky and blogs (infrequently) with her sister about 90’s Christian romance novels at