WHAT I LIKE ABOUT ME
By: Jenna Guillaume
Published: April 1, 2020
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Maisie Martin is sixteen and spending her Christmas holiday at their beach house. But, her dad isn’t going, her sister and she are not on speaking terms, and she is bringing her gorgeous best friend along. Maisie is required to keep a daily journal for her English class and through her daily journal entries, we find out what happens during those three weeks.
Maisie is considered plus-size and is embarrassed to go to the beach in a swimsuit while her friend, Anna looks like a swimsuit model. Maisie’s family has been vacationing at the beach with her mom’s best friend’s family since forever. Her son Sebastian and Maisie have been playing together since they were babies but Maisie has started to have feelings for Sebastian. But, with Anna along, Sebastian has a hard time even noticing Maisie.
There is a lot of teen angst, drama, squabbles, and low self-esteem between all the teens that hang out together. Even though Maisie is only sixteen, there are illusions of sex, lots of making out, and drinking. The book is set in Australia, so I’m not sure if the rules are different there, but this part turned me off a bit. Especially when the parents in the story buy and allow the drinking.
What I did like about the book was the story of Anna and Maisie’s friendship, even though they allowed a boy to get between them. Maisie has a new relationship that begins to blossom and it was sweet to watch he and Maisie struggle with the beginning of feelings for each other when it was so unexpected. Maisie is also struggling with the relationship with her sister who has recently come out as a lesbian and brings her new partner to spend Christmas with them.
On top of everything else that is going on, Maisie decides on a challenge to enter the annual beauty pageant. Since she is considered someone in the “plus-size” category, she takes a lot of flack for it. Also, to add to that drama, her sister won the competition a few years ago. Maisie’s body image holds her back from enjoying life and celebrating her opportunity to be in the pageant. Her message at the end is one for all teen girls to hear.
With all this going on, the story moves along quickly. Is it a bit predictable? Yes, but there are a few twists that come into play and keep the reader interested. It’s been a while since I read a YA novel, but I think it is one most teens would enjoy. I loved the teacher’s response to Maisie’s journal at the end. Maisie thought the journalling assignment was dumb at the beginning, but it appeared to be therapeutic for her and a way that she could work through her feelings, which is good for teens to realize. Since the main characters are in the sixteen-year range, I think that is the most appropriate age for reading especially with the more adult themes and activities in the book.
The story reminded me a bit of the book and movie, DUMPLIN’ so if you liked that book, you would probably like this one as well.
Jenna Guillaume was the editor-at-large for BuzzFeed Australia, where she wrote about pop culture, identity, feminism, social media, and, most importantly, Chris Hemsworth’s biceps. Previously, she worked in the features department of Girlfriend magazine in Australia, writing about everything from bullying and body image to bad kisses and boy bands. She also contributed to Girlfriend Life Hacks, an essential guide to navigating a girl’s completely-awkward-but-totally-awesome teen years. Guillaume lives in Australia. Visit her website at www.jennaguillaume.com.
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