Friday, July 6, 2012
Simon Pulse, 2012
Source: Received an e-galley via Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab Program (RIP).
I didn't know much about this book before starting it other than being familiar with Denise Jaden's work from her debut Losing Faith, which I read as part of The Contemps Challenge. My favorite part of that book was anticipating the relationship between sisters and I was pleased to see that sisters were also in this book. I wondered what the relationship would be like here.
And wow did we get a doozy of a relationship in this book, told from the perspective of Loann who is constantly unable to measure up to her beautiful popular sister Claire, making the title poignantly fitting even from the beginning. However as the book progresses we see more of Claire's perspective as well as a friend of Loann's, both of whom also live up to that title in absolutely heartbreaking ways.
But before we get to that good stuff, there was the choppy beginning. I felt very much in a daze and prepared for one kind of story based on the beginning. That story had more about friendship with one of Loann's friends stabbing her in the back and acting bizarrely cruel-the worst aspects of high school. Happily that passed and Loann begins to develop a friendship with loner Marcus, who I just adored. As mentioned, his backstory and the ways he feels he is not enough are sad and we are teased with those details before they all spill out while also showing the many good things he tries to do. I really loved Marcus-he was a stupendous book boy!
The other element of note in my opinion is that of the relationship between sisters, always complicated, rarely easy (at least in my experience). Claire is the golden girl who has the world at her feet until she delays going to college and seems to throw herself into ballet, into work, into anything but confronting her dwindling frame. Meanwhile Loann, while never popular, has her strong friendship with Marcus and is the first to notice that something is not right with Claire, attempting to bring it to their parents' attention with lackluster results. The way Claire's eating disorder ends up consuming the family adds to the sadness. However I never felt overwhelmingly sad while reading this (which has happened to me while reading some books); I guess because I still felt some hope for the future and there were elements of humor along the way.
Overall: I was very thrown by the beginning but soon settled into the meat of the story, wiling away a pleasant afternoon with this book.
Cover: The girl looks pretty wistful as she contemplates the ways she can't measure up.