Looks

Looks

4.3 6
by Madeleine George
     
 

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An unforgettable debut novel about the way we look at others, and the way we see ourselves.

Meghan Ball is both the most visible and the most invisible person in school. Her massive size is impossible to ignore, yet people freely spill their secrets in front of her, perhaps because they think she isn't listening. But she is. Now her attention has turned to a new

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Overview

An unforgettable debut novel about the way we look at others, and the way we see ourselves.

Meghan Ball is both the most visible and the most invisible person in school. Her massive size is impossible to ignore, yet people freely spill their secrets in front of her, perhaps because they think she isn't listening. But she is. Now her attention has turned to a new girl: Aimee Zorn, with her stick-figure body and defiant attitude. Meghan is determined to befriend Aimee, and when she ultimately succeeds, the two join forces to take down their shared enemy.

This provocative story explores the ways in which girls use food and their bodies to say what they cannot: I'm lonely.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Startling emotional and physical portraits leave readers captivated.—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

A stand-out. —Booklist, starred review

Difficult to put down.—School Library Journal

VOYA - Rachel Jiang
George creates a lively, stereotypical high school scene with gossip-style dialogue and delicious rumors, but gives the clichTd setting a refreshing twist with vivid, poetry-like narration. Another spin is that her short, direct style speaks straight to readers, thus bringing them in as invisible, omniscient spectators to Meghan's wallflower position. Although occasionally static and slightly lacking in deeper character/plot development, Looks is an enjoyable read for middle and high school girls. Reviewer: Rachel Jiang, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Rebecca C. Moore
To everyone in high school except the jocks who torment her, vastly obese Meghan might as well be invisible. Invisibility has its uses, though, allowing the keenly observant Meghan to listen in on everyone's deepest secrets. When she sees the beautiful but unreliable Cara befriend anorexic Aimee, Meghan knows she must break her invisibility to warn Aimee about Cara. Aimee, however, rejects the warning. For her, Cara's praise of her poetry mitigates the loss of the one person who truly understood her, her mother's ex-boyfriend, Bill. When Cara betrays her, however, Aimee and Meghan team up to exact a poetic and multifaceted revenge. Although the familiar, tormented-outsider plot might at first seem simple, George weaves a subtle and complex web. Especially strong are her vibrant and compelling characters, both primary and secondary, who tell the story entirely through their backgrounds, words, and actions. As the book contains much moral ambiguity and irresolution, readers must make their own judgments about the characters and events. Although George describes Meghan's and Aimee's eating disorders in stark and shocking detail, she teaches no lessons; this book tells a story rather than sends a message. The one element that keeps it from a 5Q is its overabundance of similes and metaphors. Despite thoughtful, clever, and lyrical images-that muscles-under-old-person-skin reminds Aimee of beef jerky-they interrupt the story and slow the pace. Try this one with girls who think for themselves. Reviewer: Rebecca C. Moore
VOYA - Julia Robbins
Looks is a gut-wrenchingly truthful book, with sometimes-strange descriptive writing. For example, the author tells readers to do things like float up and look at the field. It also progresses slowly, as the main characters are not even friends until the last third. Despite this lazy pace, the drama- and angst-filled story hits almost too close to home; anyone who has been betrayed will understand these girls' feelings. Reviewer: Julia Robbins, Teen Reviewer
Brittany Beck
A glimpse into the unconventional friendship of two lonely 14-year-old girls, Looks sends readers on an emotional roller coaster ride with its protagonists during their first year of high school. The moment Meghan Ball sees Aimee Zorn in the nurse's office the first day of school, she senses that this is a girl with whom she can be friends. However, despite her size, Meghan rarely appears on her classmates' radars, and she finds it more difficult than expected to befriend the guarded Aimee, an aspiring poet who suffers from anorexia. When Aimee forms a friendship with duplicitous teen queen Cara Roy, Meghan redoubles her efforts to reach Aimee, knowing that only she has the secret that can save her. Looks is a vivid, painful, and honest story that will have junior high students, especially girls, suffering and celebrating along with the characters. Reviewer: Brittany Beck
Children's Literature - Jennifer Waldrop
Looks is a rarity in the field of young adult fiction. It offers up two enormously flawed female characters with painful issues but does not tie the story up neatly with healing and redemption. Meghan is obese, withdrawn, and angry. She is the elephant in the room that everyone talks about. Aimee is her physical opposite, a skinny, but also angry teen. Meghan becomes obsessed with her anorexic counterpart while Aimee becomes repulsed. Through a series of strange events, they become friends when they realize they have a common enemy. What makes this story stand out is that it is truly about the friendship of the girls, not the unhealthy relationship with food they have in common. When it ends, neither girl is any less damaged, but each is happier in the new friendship that has formed. Looks is one of the few books that does not seek to cure or explain but rather to present the facts. One is too thin, one is too fat, but the differences in their looks are beside the point because what matters in this story is what they have in common. Reviewer: Jennifer Waldrop
KLIATT - Aimee Cole
The heroines of Looks are an unlikely pair for the obvious reasons: they look very different from one another. Meghan Ball is grossly overweight yet goes unseen, while Aimee Zorn is skinny and all angles in her personality. With further character development, however, readers slowly come to see their similarities. Both don't fit in with their high school peers, both are fighting for control over their circumstances in their eating (or barely eating) habits, and both have been abandoned by important people in their lives. Meghan is still suffering from her best friend suddenly ignoring her existence over the summer and is hoping for acceptance from the new girl. Meanwhile, Aimee is recovering from her mother's breakup with a long-term boyfriend—a man who she feels was the only one to truly understand her—while trying to cope at her new school. In mesmerizing language, Madeline George exposes the inner thoughts of these two girls on the fringe at their school. Readers will be drawn in by the fluidity of description as they encounter normal and scarring high school situations, including betrayal and overcoming social status. Themes of invisibility (wanted and unwanted), broken family structures, and acceptance by true friends are all sure to interest YA readers. Reviewer: Aimee Cole
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up- This gripping tale of revenge goes beyond the stereotypical "outsiders get even" story. Meghan and Aimee are on opposite ends of the outcast spectrum. Meghan is extremely overweight, and it is more than hinted at that she has a binge-eating disorder. Aimee, on the other hand, is classic anorexic. Both girls have been hurt by one of the popular girls at school. They join forces to bring Cara down in a stunning bit of public humiliation. Themes of invisibility, familial dysfunction, and fitting in are all explored to some extent. Although the plot moves along at a fairly quick pace and keeps readers engaged, the ultimate conclusion is unsettling, to say the least. Aimee and Meghan become friends, but remain invisible to the other students at school. Cara rewrites what happened in her own head to remove any guilt from herself, and there is no resolution at all to a confrontation between the English teacher and the basketball coach, which looked to be a promising plot thread concerning sports versus academics. Neither girl receives any help with her eating disorder, even though Meghan's mother appears to be loving and Aimee's reaches out to her. Despite the loose ends, the story will make readers think about the various issues touched upon, and it is difficult to put down.-Robin Henry, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX

Kirkus Reviews
Even though Meghan is fat and Aimee is thin, they have a lot in common: Both use food to cauterize pain and both feel deeply wronged by the same girl. Together, they seek revenge. Meghan's not just fat-she's vast, enormous. Silently, she navigates Valley High's hallways like an unreadable ocean liner. In contrast, Aimee darts from class to class, flinty, fierce and guarded. She's hound-dog skinny, with sharp bones protruding at her shoulders and knees. George extracts adolescent fears and coping mechanisms with surgical precision. Her startling emotional and physical portraits leave readers captivated. Teens will instantly understand why Meghan and Aimee seek invisibility: When unseen, one's far less likely to be hurt or exposed. Readers living with eating disorders will find unflinching accounts of binges and starvation as well. Luminous language places teens inside Meghan's and Aimee's struggling minds and bodies. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670061679
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
06/12/2008
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 5.62(h) x 0.88(d)
Lexile:
1060L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Startling emotional and physical portraits leave readers captivated.ùKirkus Reviews, starred review

A stand-out. ùBooklist, starred review

Difficult to put down. ùSchool Library Journal

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