Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weighty Issues, #1

Looks by Madeleine George (NY: Penguin, 2008)

This novel sticks in your head for a long time. At least it did for me. I read it more than a year ago, probably when it first came out, and the images from it kept popping back to me. I couldn't remember the title or author, but I remembered how accurately the author had captured the devastating effects of high school bullying on a friendless girl who is different from everyone else. In this case, the girl is obese, but since so many adolescents feel this type of isolation, her case can apply to nearly any teen who feels desperately alone and put upon because of her appearance or some other perceived defect.

Meghan Ball strives for invisibility, and it's amazing how often she is overlooked, despite her enormous size. Meghan recognizes a kindred spirit in new girl Aimee Zorn, although Aimee is as thin as Meghan is heavy. Aimee initially resists Meghan's overtures, but when Meghan's warnings about a girl who pretends to befriend Aimee turn out to be true, Aimee turns to Meghan for help. Meghan manages to conceive and help execute a plan that helps not only Aimee, but herself. This is not to say that the novel has a happy shiny ending, but circumstances are improved for both girls because they have each other.

Recommended for teens, grades 7 and up. Some sexual innuendos, teenage cruelty, moderate language.

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