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My Body in Pieces

Groundwood. Apr. 2021. 104p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781773064840.
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Gr 8 Up–Body image issues occupy a unique intersection, where one’s intimate self and the perceptions of others—family, peers, and even strangers—collide. Hébert’s chronicle of her struggles to reclaim her body is fractured, intense, and blurred around the edges, like the youthful memories it captures. Stunning photo-realistic snapshots depict Hébert as a chubby-cheeked child teased relentlessly by her family for her appetite, then as an uneasy teen, obsessed with her weight, who goes from bingeing to overexercising. As a young adult, with distance from her home life and with the help of kind friends and therapy, she finally learns to see beauty in her own image. Hébert’s lush pencil work brings wellsprings of emotion to every image, making tense exchanges feel crushing and moments of self-love exhilarating. This slightly disjointed narrative is no tidy handbook on conquering body image issues, but it is intensely relatable—like taking a long, hard look in the mirror. Hébert and most of her friends and family appear to be white.
VERDICT This dreamy, visually acute remembrance of reclaiming one’s body in its complex beauty is powerfully personal and appropriate for thoughtful middle and high schoolers, ideally with room for adult guidance and conversation on developing positive and resilient self-image.

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