Rating: 4.3 stars
Jennifer Niven has been on the outskirts of my radar since “All the Bright Places” but a former student alerted me to this new piece, and it certainly impressed me. Niven has done an excellent job once again, throwing two fascinating characters together amidst their unique and difficult circumstances.
Libby Strout, struggling to get over not only her mother’s death, but also having once been labeled as “America’s Fattest Teen.” Having lost hundreds of pounds (with still a ways to go), she’s making great strides at coming out of her shell and embracing high school.
I’m hesitant of reading books when the main character is so overweight only because I find the self-depreciating mindset that goes with these kinds of books to be exhausting, depressing, and counterproductive to dismantling stereotypes. This book however, was very well done. You could watch Libby’s character develop throughout the story, but her positive messages of self-worth, and her movement towards her own self-discovery is exactly the kind of attitude we need to be reading about.
I also found Jack to be a very well written character. His development was fundamental to the success of this book and it was incredibly well executed. He reminds you of those typical Alpha male jerks that rear their ugly head in high school, but we quickly learn that there is so much more to him. Being faceblind, we can see how he can get trapped in the life he’s chosen, until an awful incident he actively participates in forces him to re-evaluate how he sees the world, and that the crutches he relied on to get him through life, no longer sustain his new outlook.
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a powerful, well written realistic fiction, I highly recommend this piece.