What I Lost

Image result for what i lost novel

 

How good is the cover of this book, it gave me total chocolate cravings!  Which is ironic, cause it’s a book about anorexia.   The main character, Elizabeth, has gone from a very normal size down to about 100 pounds in the space of 8 months, so her parents forced her to check into an eating disorder clinic. Well, her doctor and her dad thought it would be a good idea, her mum seemed to prefer Elizabeth at her new size…. The book itself isn’t perfectly written – in places you can feel the author trying to say the right thing and give you the appropriate insight – but overall it manages to paint a pretty grim picture. It definitely gets you into the head space of an anorexic teen, which at times is quite frightening.  Definitely worth a read, although I do worry about the risk of spreading risky eating habits with a book like this; it’s not glamourising, but I reckon there’s a risk it could put ideas into readers’ heads.

Dumplin’

Image result for dumplin'

So this was a really fun read. I like books about body image enormously, although to start with I wasn’t sure if this was going to annoy me slightly in that there was too much focus on it – I like a book in which the main character is unusual, but their journey isn’t driven by the way they look per se. Anyway, I ended up loving this, largely because Dumplin’ is actually quite a reluctant hero, and her troop of friends is very endearing. Oh, I should say what it’s about! Dumplin’, whose real name is Willowdean or Will, is the fat teenage daughter of a former beauty queen. She’s broadly pretty accepting of herself, except that her mum actually runs the pageant now and has never once suggested that Will should enter. This, along with some challenges with her best friend and sort-of boyfriend, has begun to shake her confidence.  In memory of her dead aunt, who recently passed away as a result of obesity-related complications, Will decides to enter the pageant to prove she’s as good as anyone else.  It’s a fun, romping read, which ends just the way you know it should.

Gorgeous

Image result for gorgeous YA novel

So anyone who knows me, knows I love a good royal romance story.  I had seen this book in a blog post following the engagement of Prince Harry to (brown girl!!) Meghan Markle.  I didn’t know what to expect from it, but I did need a nice, light palette cleanser following the hauntingly beautiful Everything I Never Told You. I picked Gorgeous up for $0.20 at the library sale and I have to confess, I really enjoyed it. It’s about a girl called Becky Randle whose mum has just died, leaving her penniless and alone. She is then somewhat magically whisked away to New York City, to meet a designer who has been off the scene for the past 20-odd years.  The designer tells her he will make her the most beautiful woman in the world by giving her three dresses (like three wishes, get it??). If she can fall in love and get married before the end of one year, she will be able to remain living as her heart-stoppingly beautiful alter ego, Rebecca, forever.  And Becky sets her heart on marrying Gregory, the Prince of Wales… It’s a weird concept, but if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and just accept the fairy-tale magic involved, it’s really great fun. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love rags to riches royal marriage??

If I Was Your Girl

if i was your girl

This is the only book in our library that focuses on transgender issues (as far as I know) and it does so in an utterly compelling way.  Written by a transgender woman, it’s a story about a girl called Amanda, who used to be a boy called Andrew. Amanda has moved to a new town to live with her dad following gender reassignment surgery, and an attempted suicide. I felt this story was wonderful for getting inside the mind of a young transgender person. It opened my eyes to how challenging the situation is, but equally, reinforced the fact that transgender people are the same as everyone else, deserving of the same rights and respect.

Dietland

Dietland

Four words: Welcome. To. The. Revolution.

Not enough for you to go on? Ok, so this is a book about a fat woman who has spent her whole life waiting to be thin, and is now planning surgery to achieve this goal. When she becomes thin she plans to go by her real name, Alicia, instead of Plum, and already has a whole wardrobe full of clothes she has purchased for Alicia. But her plans are disrupted by a group of guerilla feminists, who want her to stop and reconsider whether or not she could change her mindset instead of her body and still be as happy. Intersecting with this is a second layer of guerilla feminists who are taking vengeance on those in society who abuse women, seeking to bring about change in often violent (but very clever) ways.  As I read this book I kept thinking, “Why have I not read this before??”  Challenge your way of thinking and pick up this book;  I suspect you will discover you like yourself a lot more when you’ve finished it.

 

 

Big Girl Small

big girl small

Anyone who’s been in my class in the past 2 years knows I love, love, love this book. I think it’s a stroke of genius to show the teenage condition – that sense that you’re just not that important, that everyone is looking at you, talking about you, judging you – by making the main character, Judy, a dwarf.  She doesn’t just feel small, she actually is small. Talk about a physical manifestation of teenage angst.  But the really brilliant part of this book is that the dwarfism is the only thing unusual about Judy Lohden. Rachel DeWoskin otherwise makes her a completely average teenager, with all the problems, worries, interests and desires of one.  That includes a desire to shag the cutest boy in school, Kyle, and a major heart (and head) ache when it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

Holding Up the Universe

holding up the universeI bought this book on a whim at the airport, with no prior knowledge of either the book or it’s brilliant author, Jennifer Niven. I simply loved the first few pages and then found I couldn’t put it down during my flight. The premise is super weird, but stay with me! It’s about a girl called Libby, who had at one time gained notoriety for being the “fattest teen in America”. No seriously, she had to be cut out of her house. After years of therapy, the book finds Libby restarting high school, hoping to start afresh. It is here she meets Jack, resident cool guy with the biggest ‘fro in the known universe.  The whole cool guy thing is a front though, to cover up the fact he has a disorder called prosopagnosia, leaving him unable to recognise faces. I realise this sounds like a ludicrous basis for a book, but it’s not. It’s wonderful.  In an interview, Niven revealed that she wrote the book for her nephew who has prosopagnosia and hated that he never saw himself in the books he read.  I personally found the characters so well-drawn that I think we can all find a part of ourselves in Libby and Jack.

Late addition: this is a pretty cool clip about what face blindness feels like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxCC74jCfXc