45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

Ann Galardi hates being fat. She hates that nothing fits, that no diet has ever seemed to work, and that her super-thin, beautiful mother criticizes her every bite. But no more. After watching an infomercial for a new weight-loss system, Ann decides that it’s finally time to take off her extra weight – just in time for her Aunt’s wedding. Using the system, she’ll drop the weight, look gorgeous, and finally have the life she’s wanted. However, through her process, Ann discovers that there’s more to having a perfect body than a number on the scale, and that weight loss doesn’t always mean instant happiness.

This book will not keep you on the edge of your seat. You’ll probably be able to figure out what happens before it ends, and you might be frustrated by some of the more predictable elements. That said, it’s a quick, fun read that has some important messages about body image and weight loss. In a world where the “perfect” body is slapped on every billboard and commercial possible, teens (and everyone, really) are under more pressure to look they way the media says they should look. What’s more, teens often find themselves under the same pressure at home. Eating disorders are sometimes characterized as successful tools to maintain weight, with health thrown out the window and beauty on a pedestal. Though sometimes preachy, Barson’s books tackles these issues head on, and I liked what she had to say. This isn’t a “how-to-lose-weight” book, and it’s not even a “you’re-beautiful-no-matter-what” book. It’s about being healthy, and I appreciated it very much.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

Though born to a psychic mother and living in a house full of those specializing in the supernatural, Blue has no abilities of her own. Feeling rejected by the spirit world, Blue mostly tries to just make it through her days, hoping that one day she will experience magic. Then, without warning, four boys from the prestigious private school, Aglionby – Raven boys – fall into Blue’s life. Though not magical, the boys are certainly adventurous, and Blue is soon swept up into their leader, Gansey’s, quest to find the mythical Glendower. What’s more, Blue finds herself falling for another of the Aglionby boys, Adam. Though everything in her life is soon in question, Blue knows two things for certain: Gansey will die before the year ends, and, if she kisses her true love, he will die. As she delves deeper into the mystery of Glendower, Blue must try to prevent Gansey’s death and her kiss from happening – before it’s too late.

So, after the Shiver disaster, I was really reluctant to pick up another of Steifvater’s books. But this one isn’t too bad. There are some minor issues I still don’t like, such as objectifying women and making them dependent on men, but it’s nowhere near as bad as in previous books. Though it took me a while to get into the book (thus the lower rating), the mystery turned out to be engaging, and I definitely wanted more by the time the novel ended. As a heads up, much of the mystery in the book revolves around a mythical king, Glendower, and the power of ley lines. If you’re not familiar with either (I wasn’t), you may want to do a little research before you begin — the concepts are not explained well in the book. I’ve also heard great things about the next two installments in the series, The Dream Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue. If you’re looking for a new series to start — this might be it!

This one has a great book trailer!

Rating: 3.5/5

*YASLA Top Ten Books for Young Adults, 2013

*Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel, 2012

*Carnegie Medal in Literature Nominee, 2014

*Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee, 2015

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Friends since childhood, Lia and Cassie share everything – including their eating disorders. Cassie binges and purges to try to make the pain of her family go away, Lia starves herself to become the skinniest girl in the school. When Cassie dies of complications from her disease, it sends Lia into yet another cycle of anorexia. What’s worse, she’s haunted by Cassie’s spirit, a force trying to pull her into a similar fate. Lia must decide if she will stay “strong”, or return the land of the living.

As with Speak, Anderson presents a gripping story of an issue faced by many young adults today: eating disorders. Through stark realism, she shows readers the inner-workings of anorexia and bulimia, as well as the mindset of their sufferers. Though I’m not a die-hard fan of Anderson, I did like this book (I also liked Speak), and I think it sheds light on a very important problem faced by many. It’s a quick read with a fast storyline — though it does have somewhat flat characters. Pick it up if you’re in the mood for a heavy read!

Rating: 4/5

*YALSA Top Ten Teen’s Best Fiction, 2010
 
For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.