More than just a pretty face

Pretty Face by Mary HoganPretty Face by Mary Hogan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of pages: 213
My copy: borrowed

That’s what I am. A funny girl. A friend. Nobody’s girlfriend. The girl with the pretty face.

Hayley wishes she could love living in Santa Monica, blocks from the beach, where every day—and everybody—is beautiful and sunny. But she just doesn’t fit in with all the blond, superskinny Southern California girls who have their plastic surgeons on speed dial. Hayley is smart and witty and has such a pretty . . . face. Translation: Don’t even think about putting on a bikini, much less dating superhot Drew Wyler. A bikini will never be flattering, and Drew will never think of her as more than a friend.

Just when Hayley feels doomed to live her life in the fat lane, her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer—not for school, not for fat camp, just for fun. It’s there, under the Italian sun, that Hayley’s vision of herself starts to change. She’s curvy, not fat. Pizza isn’t evil. And life is so much more than one-size-fits-all. Who knows? Once Hayley sees herself in a new light, maybe the girl with the pretty face will finally find true amore.

* * *

I used to be fat. I won’t sugarcoat it: I was fat. I wasn’t obese, but I was about 40 lbs overweight. See for yourself:

I tried not to mind my being overweight, and try to follow those “love yourself” mantras to make me feel good about myself. No one exactly called me fat to my face, but people joked about it at times, and I often laughed it off. But I knew for myself that I wasn’t thin, and I hated shopping for clothes because I knew I would always have to ask for Large or Extra Large and not all the clothes I want look good on me. I didn’t hate myself for it, but I hated that I wasn’t doing anything about it, at least up until July 2009. That was when I joined the gym, paid a lot for my training fees, and finally started to lose weight properly, through diet, exercise and reading about health stuff (including how to reduce belly fat, which I am still struggling with).

The weight and self-esteem angle was one reason why I picked up Pretty Face. I always liked books that helped protagonists discover their true beauty, just like North of Beautiful. I thought Pretty Face would be like this, but I was kind of disappointed.

People always say Hayley had a pretty face, but it was all they tell her. Hayley knew she was fat, and it didn’t help that her mother kept on giving her grief about her weight after losing much of her own. It also didn’t help that she found out who her crush Drew Wyler really liked and it wasn’t her. After one bad day joining her mother at a weight-loss specialist (?) office, her parents told her that they’d be sending her to Italy for the summer to have some time off. In Italy, Hayley finds an entirely different lifestyle that she gets used to, and she finds herself loving food, herself and even finding a guy who loves her for who she is.

I really wanted to like this novel, but I ended up having too many issues with the story, and how Hayley’s insecurities were dealt with. Spoiler warning starts here.

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