What I Like About Me is a good debut novel about learning to love oneself, all within the context of a hot summer in Australia with family and friends.
Book Title: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume
Category: YA Fiction, 304 pages
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Release date: April 1, 2020
Content Rating: PG-13 (There is some heavy kissing, bad language, underage drinking, implied sex, and nudity.)
You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES? This vacation is probably not going to be that.
The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she'd be doing over vacation is entering a beauty pageant. Not when she's spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone. Not when her Dad is AWOL and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie's already shaky confidence. And especially not when her best friend starts flirting with the boy she's always loved. But Maisie's got something to prove.
As she writes down all the ways this vacation is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn't let anything, or anyone, hold her back.
Jenna Guillame’s American debut features a plus-size protagonist with a compelling, funny, and authentic narrative voice. This relatable and charming novel about friendship, confidence, and self-love will draw readers in as Maisie’s realistic emotional journey unveils the importance of embracing one’s body and celebrating one’s self.
However, Maisie's honesty and her teen voice soon endeared me to her and had me laughing out loud. I like books that make me laugh. It's December in Australia and Maisie is on vacation with her mom at Cobbers Bay at a cabin by the ocean. It's where she's spent her family vacations as a child with the Lee family, who has a boy named Sebastian, now all grown up and who Maisie is secretly in love with.
So much is going on this summer. Her best friend Anna has joined them and caught Sebastian's eye, and Maisie is stuck with Beamer, that annoying boy who teases her mercilessly. Maisie is overweight and lacking self-confidence, but she does have a resilience about her. It will be a summer of changes, a coming-of-age, where Maisie learns to like herself without apologies, where she discovers she is not the only one who runs from her problems, and together with her family she learns to face up to them.
There are so many themes that run through this book: the true value of friendship, sisterhood, forgiveness, first love, self-love, and believing in one's self-worth, and finally, the value of family with all its quirks and imperfections. It was a fun book to read, lighthearted, funny, and full of girl power. I also loved the pop culture references to movies like Dirty Dancing that brought up memories of my own teen years.
However, and this is a bit of a pet-peeve for me in YA books for teens 12-16: there is bad language and f-bombs, closed bedroom scenes where you know kids are having sex, and a house party where parents were seen as cool for allowing the kids to do anything they wanted, such as drinking and having sex in the house. All unnecessary to the theme and plot of the story, I might add. I can understand this in NA books but not so much in YA.
Apart from this, What I Like About Me is a good debut novel about learning to love oneself, all within the context of a hot summer in Australia with family and friends. And it's got a fabulous cover too, so attractive and perfect for this novel.
Disclosure: Thanks to the publicist for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.