Before reading this book, I knew the hype around it. The masses seem to be divided. Half believe it is horribly offensive and the other half really enjoyed the story. As I always say when stuff like this surfaces: make up your own mind. Read the reviews of those readers you really trust and go from there. I, for one, really enjoyed this story.
Libby Strout has not had an easy life. She was once known as “America’s Fattest Teen” because she had to be removed from her house while the world watched as it was being televised and she lost her mother. Nobody ever bothered to take the time to get to know Libby for who she really is on the inside. After taking a lot of time to figure herself out and learn to put the pieces of her broken life back together, Libby is ready to go back to school. Libby has lost weight, but not enough that she is super model rail thin but much thinner than she was. During a horrid prank by some high school jerks, Jack Masselin comes in to Libby’s life. Something sparks between Jack and Libby, a friendship starts to develop. Jack needs a friend more than he can admit. He has a secret that he has kept from everyone: He is face blind. He is not able to recognize faces of anyone. Neither Jack nor Libby realize how much they truly need the other, someone who really sees them for who they are.
This book was quick to get through but it left me with some things to think about: how I treat myself and how I treat others. That was the big take away for me. I found at times I really connected with Libby’s character because I was rather overweight in school and was picked on daily. My HS years were some of my worst years because kids can be so cruel. I wasn’t as big as Libby’s character was described to be, but enough that people noticed. I wish I had half as much confidence as Libby, but there were times I felt she was over confident. It felt like she was looking for a fight. She was always so defensive and thought nearly everyone was out to get her. Granted, most of the girls at this school were rude jerks and very hateful, but no reason to walk around with your claws out the entire time. But when Libby was that way, it made it hard to truly like her. She stood up for herself and stood up for what she believed in, but she still was not healed. Inside she was still so insecure and very caught up in finding a boy to “help her sex away” the rest of her weight. (her words, not mine) That was one of the reoccurring lines within this story that I did not like.
I did not like Jack when he was introduced, but I believe that was intentional. As the story continued and Jack’s true side came out, I liked him a little bit more. He was suffering from face blindness, which I found interesting. I haven’t ever read a story where the MC had this issue.There were many times throughout this story that I kept forgetting about Jack’s problem because he functioned rather well on a daily basis. He had to keep reminding the reader of his medical condition and I’m glad he did because I would often forget. What I didn’t like is how he chose to hide this fact from his family and friends. Why not tell your family, dude? They. Are. Your. Family. He actually had a great support system in his family yet he chose to not reach out to them for help. I will never understand why.
There is a lot of people upset by this book because they feel it is another story trying to show how love can cure mental illness. Tell me, where was the mental illness in this story? I didn’t read about it. I read about a broken girl that chose to eat her feelings and a boy that cannot tell faces apart. I personally read no mental illness at all. I read this as a sweet story of a girl and a boy, both with secrets and unspoken emotions finding friendship in each other. This book was not offensive or disrespectful. It did show how disrespectful and mean kids today can be.
Now with all of that said, I did like this book. This was a 3.5 star read for me. I was cheering for Libby to keep on dancing and for Jack to admit to his family that he needed help. I will recommend this to everyone as I enjoyed it. I hope everyone gives it a chance.