I can’t believe it has taken me until the end of February to post my first #loveOzYA review of the year! It was worth the wait though – What I Like About Me is an absolutely adorable and fun read! Keep reading below to find out what I liked about it (see what I did there? Ha!)
You know those movies where teenagers have the summer of their lives?
This summer is probably not going to be that.
Here lies Maisie Martin, dead from embarrassment, aged sixteen.
The last thing Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.
Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.
Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her best friend starts going out with the boy she’s always loved.
But Maisie’s got something to prove. And she’s not going to let anything or anyone – including herself – hold her back.
Look, I really loved this book!
Jenna Guillaume has given us some of the sweetest and most authentic Aussie teens you’ll ever read. The book is written as if it is Maisie’s diary and I think Guillaume strikes a perfect balance between the bits that genuinely sound like they have been written by a teenager and a more traditional (sophisticated?) narrative style that is more readable but still feels authentic to Maisie’s voice.
While there is a bit of romance in here (KISSING!) I loved that the most important relationship in the book is Maisie’s with herself – it is such a perfect coming-of-age story. I also really liked seeing the way Maisie’s friendships developed. There is something super special about those first friendships you make outside of school, with people who you maybe have more in common with than just being in the same class every day and it was a sweet touch to see Maisie go through that.
One of the other strengths of the book is that the other characters in Maisie’s world are well written too. They are fun and feel familiar – like people we actually know – without being OTT quirky or super stereotype/caricature-y. And they aren’t superficial – there are stories and depth behind those ‘background’ characters that make me want to know more about them (if you ask me, some of those characters deserve their own books – I would love to read more stories from the Maisie-verse!)
I can’t review this one without mentioning the positive body representation. Maisie’s weight is mentioned throughout the story, and the fact that she is bigger than society thinks is ideal is something that she works through in the book. I felt like this was well written, and loved the fact that although Maisie is fat, that is only a small part of her story – she has so much else going on and is absolutely not defined by her weight.
Overall this was a charming and heartwarming read! I’d recommend it for lovers of contemporary Aussie YA fiction and 80s high school/coming of age movies. Guillaume’s writing style makes this one accessible a range of teens, regardless of their level of enthusiasm for reading, as well as a funny and refreshing read for adults too.
What I Like About Me is out now from Pan Macmillan Australia