FICTION

Fugly

Carolrhoda. Nov. 2019. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781541544994.
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Gr 10 Up–Eighteen-year-old Beth is overweight, shy, and has labeled herself “fugly.” While she struggles to take care of her family and study for university, Beth tries to keep herself invisible. Online, however, Beth has numerous false profiles that she uses to troll “the Beautiful People.” She is known on social media as the malicious MidnightBanshee. Every account that she destroys is a win. Then she meets two vastly different girls; Tori is an online troll who teams up with and cultivates a relationship with Beth, and Amy is a sweet pixie of a girl who sees something in Beth that no one else does. Amy sweeps Beth into university life, introducing her to friends around the British city where they live. Her two lives abruptly collide and Beth has to face the repercussions of her malevolent online behavior. While the secondary characters (especially Amy’s roommate Patrick) are fleshed out and authentic, Beth comes across as mean and angry for over half of the story making it difficult to sympathize with her. The dangers of online bullying, cyberstalking, and phishing are heavy-handedly presented. Incidents of sexual harassment and suicide are woven into the plot as well, but gentler themes of seeing past someone’s physical appearance and the qualities of true friendship offer a counterbalance to some of the more negative concepts.
VERDICT A supplemental purchase for libraries where titles by Julie Murphy or Lauren Myracle are popular.

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