Pretty Face

Oh look! Another YA body image book. Something new and different. I feel like I've been reading a glut of body image themed YA lately. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since they have been good, but I do believe I need to take a break from them as they are kind of starting to blur together. Now, you should not take this as Mary Hogan's Pretty Face is not good. It is and I'll get to that in a second, but I feel like in two months it's going to blur in with the other books on the topic I've read, only to stand out because it was set (partly) in Italy.

I liked Hayley. I think a lot of readers will identify with her. A not-so skinny girl in a very skinny city (LA). A formerly not-skinny mother who is all about staying thin and doing everything she can to make her daughter that way as well. Hayley's best friend is thin, pretty and all the boys want her but she's not interested in any of them. Unfortunately one of the boys that likes her is the one that Hayley happens to like. So Hayley is thrilled when her parents inform her that they are sending her to stay with a family friend in Italy for the summer. While in Italy Hayley examines what it is to be pretty, what it is to love your body and what it is to actually enjoy food.

I think what I liked the most about this book was the message about having a healthy relationship with food. In Italy Hayley's not trying to use food as comfort (mostly) or trying to get skinny (mostly). She learns to enjoy food. She learns to make food. She begins what, one assumes to be, a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime. (When reading it I kept pausing to break out my Italian cookbooks and do some food dreaming.) It totally made me want to go back to Italy. I miss Italian trees - like this one.

The mother in this novel saddened me. She's supposed to but as someone who loves food and reads more food blogs than I reasonably have time for (ok ok I read more blogs than I reasonably have time for) it always makes me sad to realize there are people who have such negative relationships with food. The mother is sadly realistic.

The one thing I had a really hard time buying into was Hayley's relationship with Enzo. It just didn't feel right to me.  A little too...desperate? Convenient? I get why it's there (really I do) but that doesn't mean I have to like it.