At first glance, the book might appear to be a sappy love story. However, this story delves into a much more serious topic. The novel does not focus on the love between two people, but rather on the love for one’s self. It is about Olivia Blakely’s journey of self-love.
The story shows the effects of what society’s standards can do to one’s self. A person’s yearning to be “perfect,” to be what others find appealing, can drive a person's self-esteem down to a point where they are harming themselves. This issue is shown through Olivia Blakely’s eating disorder, which comes to a point where she only thinks about her appearance.
Throughout the story are self-thoughts of envy, loathing, and sorrow. Being the daughter of a politician, Olivia Blakely has always been in the spotlight of everyone’s judgment. While her father runs for governor of California, Olivia tries to have a normal year in high school. However, it does not go as planned. Stuck between her parent’s expectations and her aspirations, she is reluctant about what she wants to do with her life. Now as Olivia tries to complete her portfolio for an upcoming student exhibition, her life soon spirals out of control as she struggles with bulimia, which soon consumes her life, and she does not know who she is anymore. But as she struggles to heal with the help of friends and family, she is able to recover.
Olivia Blakely’s journey takes the reader through many emotions, showing a struggle that many people go through today. Her first-person narration provides both a mirror and a window into an experience of bulimia. It is an engaging story and not for the light-hearted. Taking the reader through Olivia’s journey, we see the pain and suffering she goes through, while also seeing the joy and happiness she feels. A well-written story, many who read this book will learn through the experiences Olivia goes through.
As for myself, I was surprised and intrigued as I read the book. I believe the author did a good job of representing someone with an eating disorder. The descriptions and scenes of Olivia's disarrayed eating and self-harm never felt glorified. I enjoyed reading the novel. However, I do have to add that some scenes felt forced, coming out of nowhere. Despite this, it did not disrupt the story.
In the end, the story gives a powerful message. The struggle to love others begins with oneself: “Broken people need to love themselves and heal themselves before they can truly love others,” as Olivia Blakeley says towards the end of the novel.
Review by: Ancheska Balbalosa
Ancheska is thirteen and is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Besides reading, she loves to draw, paint, knit, and play the saxophone. Ancheska is drawn to historical fiction, mysteries, and thrillers.
—Michael Baradi, Mid-Valley Regional Branch Library