Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: Picture Me

Lori Weber-James Lorimer and Company

The details: Will be released in 2014,  168 pages, 1 sitting to read. I received the ARC of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: (From Goodreads) When a well-meaning English teacher has overweight student Krista read aloud a poem about body image titled "Barbie Doll" in class, she ignites a simmering bullying event based on Krista's appearance. Krista's best friend, and witness to the event, Tessa, is suspended for fighting to defend her friend. The girl who bullies Krista seems unaffected by the incident at school and more concerned with what an older guy thinks of her. But as the three characters' paths intersect, their inner lives are revealed. Each emerges as a much more complicated individual than their simple bully, target, and witness labels.

Review: I wanted to like this book. I was really hoping to find a positive story line, to show that bullies are not always mean without reason. I really wanted a book to put on my library shelves that would spark my students interests, to start them on an internal investigation, learning to over-come bullying, understand what makes a bully....
This book falls short. The premise is there, the framework is there, but it doesn't go beyond that. Let me start by saying that I was a victim to extreme bullying, even from teachers. I was an over-weight cheerleader, and that seemed to offend people. I am very overweight now, but when I look back at my middle school years, I was only 20-30 lbs overweight. I was a size 15. I was large, but I felt even larger and ended up with body dysmorphic disorder as well as bulimia. Bullying is a real threat.

When I read the synopsis of this book on Netgalley, I HAD to read it. I was interested in Krista, the overweight girl who is the victim of bullying, due to her weight. However of all the characters, we learn the least about her, and her character development is completely missing.

This book is told through her, her bully, and her friend. This is confusing in the beginning of the book, as I thought the book was being told in third person, of Krista. But it wasn't. It took me a bit of time to realize that it was another character's point of view.

In the beginning, Krista is described as a girl who ignores her weight. She doesn't seem to care about her weight, and ignores the bullies. However, once a picture is taped to her locker, she becomes obsessed with losing weight and taking diet pills, no matter the cost to her health. She ignores her best friend, and becomes practically a hermit, never leaving her bed. By the end of the book, it's hard to be sympathetic to her, even though I have first hand experience of being that girl. I feel like the author did a piss-poor job at fully showing the TRUE danger of this behavior, because of how bitchy she made this character. (No, not every book should have a 'lesson' but this is a dangerous spot to be in.)

We learn more about the bully, and find that she does not have the happy-home-life like she appears to have. Throughout the story we see her fall in with the wrong crowd, and we are alluded to a situation that is unpleasant, and one can assume what happens, HOWEVER. This is where the book ends. There is no closure at all for the bully and the victim. This story just ends. I have a major problem with this. This book's synopsis makes the reader believe we will be reading a story about bullying. Instead, we learn more about the friend, and she is the only character to have any sort of resolution by the end. It left a bad taste in my mouth. 'Oh look, the bully isn't happy, the bullied isn't happy, LETS TALK ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE!' It's obvious while reading that the focus isn't on the bullying or bully at all. It's about the friend and her home life.

This book is misleading and stops in middle of what I felt to be the climax of the story. There are other things I would like to say about this book, but I can't seem to articulate well WHY this book is nothing but disappointing. This is NOT a book I will be purchasing for my school library. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere.

Rating: 2 stars. Stay away, unless you really really really enjoy punishment.

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