Friday, September 14, 2012
Source: Picked up for review from the library.
I think Vivian has done an excellent thoughtful job of examining the life of young woman, the pressures, the feelings, etc. such as in her book Not That Kind of Girl and after seeing several rave reviews of this book, I was excited to give it a read although I was worried about juggling the eight (!) girls it follows.
Those worries were not unwarranted as I didn't feel like we really got enough insight into them. There are eight girls and 332 pages, which means that each girl only gets about forty pages and it didn't even seem like each got the same amount of page-time. Fortunately I was able to keep referring to the front inside cover, which listed the girls as well as their basic conflict upon being placed on the list as either the prettiest or the ugliest grade in their respective grade.
As is my wont, I ended up being most drawn to the stories that featured sister-sister relationships; prettiest freshman Abby and prettiest Bridget find themselves struggling with their role on the list and how it impacts their relationship with their sister who did not make the list. Abby and her older sister Fern definitely had some moments that made me reflect on my relationship with my younger sister.
But I think my favorite storyline was Danielle, who is anointed ugliest freshman and derided as manly. See Danielle swims and has an athletic body with muscles; she's good enough to make varsity. However this body shape makes her feel less than when compared to the typical body shape that seems to be prized in contemporary American society. These feelings are compounded by her insecure boyfriend who can't take the teasing from his stupid friends. But happily Danielle makes more friends with other swimmers and appreciates all that her body can do.
Another interesting plotline was that of seniors Jennifer and Margo (labeled ugliest and prettiest respectively) who are former friends. There were some twists and turns I didn't predict and a few shocking moments. This storyline did not turn out the way I expected and I appreciated the surprises that Vivian was able to pack in here.
Overall: A slightly overstuffed book but still a very appealing one that tackles life as a female in amid the craziness of an American high school.
Cover: I really like the color of the lockers behind the students although I wonder if eight could have fit to represent how many are focused on in the book.