What is this about?: Maisie has lived her life according to the way the world sees her. Now, she’s decided to live her life the hardest way of all: how she sees herself.
What else is this about?: It’s the coming of age story you wanted when you were growing up but never got.
You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE SUMMER OF THEIR LIVES?
This summer is probably not going to be that.
Source: Everything that’s happened since yesterday …
The last thing sixteen-year-old 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 gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie’s shaky confidence. And her best friend starts going out with the boy she’s always loved.
But Maisie’s got something to prove.
As she writes down all the ways this summer is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn’t let anything, or anyone, hold her back…
What I Like About Me is probably an actual conversation I — and you — should have had with yourself years ago, but avoided because you know what? It’s damn hard and it’s confronting and we’re — girls — are taught not to have those sorts of conversations because then you’re kind of getting full of yourself.
You’re going to want to draw hearts around Maisie and just hug her tight
Actually, if you’re anything like me you’re probably going to want to draw hearts around this whole damn book.
She’s on holiday with her mum, bestie Anna (who has just had an ugly break-up) at the seaside, most definitely without her Dad who has to work. That’s pissed her mum off, and there’s this underlying worry about what’s happening between them that runs through this book. But, when the book starts Maisie is intent on cheering Anna up and then meets her other bestie, Seb.
Seb is a gorgeous, holiday bestie more than bestie-bestie because they always run into each other at their holiday houses. Their mums are old friends, who live in different states and the Christmas holiday is when they catch up. And Seb has grown into a gorgeous guy that Maisie has been crushing on for years, but when he sees Anna — well, you can probably expect what happens.
But, where the book is different
The book differs in that Anna and Seb’s hook-up is sort of the catalyst Maisie needed to re-examine her life. Or to be more accurate get into situations she normally wouldn’t: like make friends with a random girl, Leila, on the beach and get drawn into her group. Or enter a beauty pageant.
Yes, Maisie is fat: she wears ugly board shorts and t-shirts to the beach, and is resentful of her sister Eva who entered the same beauty pageant years ago and won — without her. They were close once, close enough that they were going to enter together, but then drifted apart, and that gulf has never been able to be bridged.
Yes, the book is filled with romance — heartwarming romance than never takes over Maisie’s story.
The romance serves Maisie’s story and isn’t there to prop her up, or make her feel like Baby in Dirty Dancing (it’s a thing in the book: which you know you should be reading). The particular love interest in question is funny, just like Maisie is and their relationship is filled with miscommunications and awkwardness that is actually kind of endearing — but never once did I think that romance was there to make things better for Maisie.
The book is about Maisie making things better for Maisie.
Family really can mess with your head
What I did want to see more of though is her relationship with her family. Her sister Eva for instance is going through issues herself, and has been for years. Dance has been her life, but she wants something more to her life than dance, which drives a wedged between her mother and her. Their family has been focused on Eva and her dance, and getting her where she needs to be. But now that Eva has changed her mind, what about the sacrifices that were made by Maisie and on Maisie’s behalf by her parents?
These scenes made me think Eva probably has some body image issues that affected her relationships, especially with Maisie, which is another part of the whole body-image conversation.
Maybe book 2?
Maisie Maisie Maisie
Maisie’s coming-of-age story is funny, heartfelt and familiar, I think is the best word to describe it — because I think her point of view and what she goes through is something all girls and women will have experienced, I think.
Her story, by the way, is told through journal entries, which make for a more intimate tone to the book, I think. It let’s you into her deepest insecurities and anger and frustrations, which just make it all that easier to understand her.
What I like About Me is the book I wished I had read years ago — and it’s one every girl and boy should read too.