Looks by Madeline George

look-cover The fat girl left alone in the world becomes the ultimate outsider, and outsiders know the insiders’ secrets, because insiders don’t care what’s happening on the outside- they never check to see what the outsiders know. They usually don’t even know who the aoutsiders are. The person on the bottom sees what’s happening on the top, the person at the back sees what’s happening in front, the person on the ousside sees what’s happening at the center, and the fat girl who loses her only friend is under, behind, and outside all at once; if she cares to look, she can see everything in every direction. God must be a friendless fat girl, because only friendless fat girls are as omniscient as God.

Looks is the story of Meghan Ball, a “fat girl” who spends her life on the outside, being unnoticed by everyone around her. The book begins by giving the reader an aerial shot of the town and then it zooms in from the whole town, to the school and finally to Meghan Ball, the “most visible and invisible person in school.” On the first day of her sophomore year, Meghan meets Aimee Zorn who is as skinny as she is fat. Megan is instantly drawn to Aimee, sensing that the two share the same feelings of being overlooked by everyone in their lives. Eventually, the two girls come together to get revenge on those who have wronged them and an unlikely friendship begins to form. The book ends with the author returning to that first aerial view and zooms back out, since we no longer need to look at these two girls, as they have finally been noticed by one another and don’t need us to notice them anymore.

This book came highly recommended to me and I must say, it did not disappoint. We meet Meghan on the second page of the book, but we do not hear her speak until page 129. Instead we get inside the mind of a girl who is completely isolated and alone in high school, a girl who is more comfortable hiding in a darkened music room or the nurse’s office than in a classroom, a girl who is overlooked by everyone around her, a girl who essentially has no voice. There are some absolutely beautiful and powerful passages in this book, such as the one above. The book did switch viewpoints alternating between Aimee and Meghan, which is a technique I don’t normally enjoy, but this one didn’t seem to bother me as much, although I did prefer Meghan’s chapters to Aimee’s. I think one of things that really bothered me about Aimee was that her eating disorder never really was acknowledged by anyone around her and I wanted to slap her mother into reality. However, I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good young adult read. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.


ARC: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

21633One of the perks of working at a bookstore is that every now and then a promising Advanced Reader’s Copy falls into my hands. Yesterday was such a day. Nestled in the middle of a stack of books was Laurie Halse Anderson’s newest book Wintergirls. With this novel, it seems she has returned to her stream of consciousness style which appealed to the readers of Speak. Chains and Fever, while both well-written, seemed to sort of miss the mark with her teenage audience, but Wintergirls seems to hit that mark dead-on.

Battling anorexia and the death of her friend, Lia takes us into the darkness of her world, one which is filled with secrets and pain. She is plagued with the guilt that she didn’t save Cassie and uses her anorexia to gain back some control of a life she feels is spinning out of control. With the ghost of Cassie cheering her on, Lia attempts to starve herself and join Cassie on the other side.

Anderson’s lyrical stream of consciousness forces her readers to enter into the mindset of an anorexic as we struggle with Lia and her journey back into the living. I have no doubts that this one is going to receive the same kind of attention as did Speak.


“You’ve only seen pretty faces your whole life. Your parents, your teachers, everyone over sixteen. But you weren’t born expecting that kind of beauty in everyone, all the time. You just got programmed into thinking everyone else is ugly.”

So David tells Tally in Scott Westerfeld’s novel Uglies. Tally Youngblood is 4 weeks away from turning sixteen, 4 weeks away from the operation which will make her pretty, something she has been looking forward to her whole life. Until she meets Shay. Shay tells Tally about a place where the world isn’t divided into two categories, pretties and uglies. Shay doesn’t want to become pretty, she wants to stay who she is, something Tally never considered before. When Shay disappears Tally is recruited by the Specials as a spy and is forced to turn on her friend. What Tally discovers in the process makes her question everything she believes and suddenly she isn’t so sure she wants to be pretty.

One of my students recommended this book to me and I must say I enjoyed this book and will continue with the series (Pretties, Specials and Extras). It was a quick read and raises the question of “what defines beauty?” The ending of this book leaves you hanging. I would recommend having Pretties on hand or you will be left with several unanswered questions.