"Pretty Face" by Mary Hogan

May 24, 2008 at 8:05 pm (Book Reviews)

I’m having mixed feelings about this book. In some way, I liked it. It seemed like a nice, casual read – chick lit for teens, if you will (it is young adult fiction). The story is about sixteen year old Hayley. She lives in Santa Monica, near the beach, but she feels she doesn’t really fit in with most of the girls there. Hayley is a little – not a lot – overweight, which is a bigger problem where she lives than it might be in other places. Hayley’s mother was once was overweight but has now “seen the light” and lives a life full of fiber. She’s mean. Very mean. I don’t think she means to be cruel, but she is. For instance, she buys Hayley a talking scale “So you can’t lie to yourself,” which is something I can picture my grandmother doing (the woman gave me Richard Simmons’s Deal-A-Meal for my birthday one year). I mention this only because I can understand Hayley’s situtation – she’s tired of people telling her that she “has a pretty face”. (This is code for “You’re fat”.) It seems to Hayley like everything happens because of her weight – even, Drew, the boy that she likes seems to only think of her as a friend – just when Hayley thinks that Drew might be interested in her, he asks her if her best friend, Jackie, likes him. One day, after a particularly bad fight between Hayley and her mother, when Hayley’s mom takes her to a “Waist Watcher” meeting, Hayley’s mom and dad tell her that she’ll be spending the summer in Italy – because the therapist that they’ve been seeing about Hayley seems to think that she’s under too much “body image pressure”. So Hayley goes off to Italy to live with her mom’s friend, Patty, and her family for the summer. The book is all about Hayley learning to be more comfortable in her own skin and learning to enjoy life.

I would have really enjoyed the book, I think, except for one thing. There are times in the book when Hayley, at an internet cafe in Italy (her host family doesn’t have internet), is exchanging instant messages with Jackie (this actually happens once in California, as well). This ruins the whole book for me because the author actually uses netspeak. These include “WHT HAPPND???!!!!!!” and “GRN w NV”. I spent the next chapter or two (these chapters were super-short) being annoyed at the netspeak. In my mind, that was totally unnecessary. I don’t think as many teens use that as the author seems to think – though I may be confused because I had to be quite firm with my MOTHER about her not doing that when I first got a cell phone (although I have had internet access since before most people even knew what email was, let alone had one themselves, I refused to get a cell phone until last summer when I was often in a seedy area late at night/early morning because of work). At any rate, maybe once would have been enough.

All in all, though, the book wasn’t bad. If the netspeak doesn’t bother you and you like chick lit – especially if you enjoy YA fiction – I think you’d enjoy it.

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