Friday, 22 February 2019

What I Like About Me


What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume (Pan Macmillan Australia), PB RRP $16.95 ISBN: 9781760559120
Reviewed by Pauline Hosking
Here’s a positive tale about teenage body image and body-love. Jenna Guillaume spent more than half a decade in the features department of Girlfriend magazine and knows what will appeal to girl readers in their teens, and what may help some of them.
Maisie Martin is a plus-size sixteen-year-old who spends most of her time hiding her body from the world. Her summer seems to be going from bad to worse. Her father stays home rather than going on holiday to Cobbers Bay as usual, leading Maisie to fear her parents are breaking up. Then her best friend Anna hooks up with the boy Maisie’s been crushing on for years.
The novel is a series of diary entries written for a school assignment. What begins as a homework chore ends up as an account of how Maisie doesn’t let anything, or anyone, hold her back from something she really wants to do.
She wants to enter the Miss Teen Summer Queen Pageant which her totally gorgeous, slim, older sister Eva won years before. Since Maisie won’t even go swimming because it would show off her body, how will she summon the courage to enter the pageant?
Luckily her crush’s best friend, Beamer, is also holidaying at Cobbers Bay. He reveals he’s been attracted to Maisie for ages and overcomes her initial lack of interest. She meets a heap of new people who boost her confidence, replacing the rather one-sided relationship she had with Anna. Then she takes a long, hard look in the mirror and makes a list of all the things she likes about herself. The list begins with seven entries and ends, some pages later, with thirteen. The last few are:  No. 10. My midriff. No.11. My guts. No.12 My dancing feet. No.13. My heart.
The story is not a total fairy tale. There is a good reason why her father is stressed. Eva turns out to be human and not completely perfect. Maisie doesn’t win the beauty pageant but ultimately, she wins much more. 
This should be a very popular read. It’s both funny and moving, with a sprinkling of romance. Girls will find Maisie’s world easy to relate to.
Tucked into the book is a card with space for readers to list ten things they like about themselves. The author suggests that, when making their list, readers should treat themselves the way they treat their best friend - never putting them down and always noticing their good qualities. It’s a constructive, helpful idea.
Recommended. 

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