FICTION

What I Like About Me

Peachtree. Apr. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781682631607.
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Gr 7-10–Maisie Martin is spending summer vacation at the beach with her mom and best friend. Her dad is mysteriously opting out. Her older sister won’t join them, but she and Maisie aren’t on speaking terms anyway. One perk of the trip is spending time with her longtime crush. Then her beautiful best friend starts dating the crush, forcing Maisie to spend time with his annoying friend. She falls in with a group of local teens, one of whom expands Maisie’s view of herself during a conversation about beauty. When Maisie says, “I know I’m not beautiful. I’m fat,” her new friend responds, “And why can’t you be both?” Maisie begins to look for the good in herself and even signs up to compete in a local beauty pageant. She expects her size will disqualify her, but to her surprise, her application is accepted. This book draws obvious parallels to Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, but Maisie and her diverse cast of friends are fresh and distinctive, as is the Australian setting. American readers might be surprised by the casual approach to drinking—in one scene, Maisie’s mom buys the girls a four-pack of wine coolers to split at a New Year’s party. Pop culture references are mostly retro (Arnold Schwarzenegger films and Dirty Dancing feature) so as not to become outdated.
VERDICT A fun, upbeat, and tender coming-of-age story written in an engaging and lively diary format.

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