Lexi has always been known for her good looks. After finding her boyfriend, Ryan, cheating on her with her best friend at a party, Lexi gets into a car accident and requires reconstructive facial surgery. Devastated by the skin graft and scars, she hides out at home, refusing contact with her former friends and resenting her overbearing, image-conscious mother. When Lexi’s 10th-grade year begins, she takes the advice of her down-to-earth sister, Ruthie, and tries out a new persona, getting a funky haircut, wearing Ruthie’s unflattering clothes, and adopting new rules for life that include not worrying about appearances and food, forgetting guys, boycotting school functions, becoming more “globally aware,” and thinking for herself. Lexi’s journey is rewarding and powerful as she comes to see herself, her family, and her friends in ways she never did before. Friend’s (For Keeps) character-driven novel is an affecting and insightful portrait of recovery and the experiences that shape an individual. Lexi’s intimate narrative voice puts readers in her shoes as she reshapes her life and her relationships. Ages 12–up. (June)
"My Life in Black and White is a realistic fiction that really has you wondering 'What if this happened to me?'"
"This novel is about family, friends, love, and above all, the hard journey to self-acceptance."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A solid and adolescent-appealing premise, and [an] accessibly written story."
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—"My life is over." Or at least that's what 15-year-old Lexi thinks when she wakes up in a hospital with her face bandaged. When she finally looks in a mirror, instead of her once-stunning reflection, she sees zigzagged stitches, a skin graft, bruising, and swelling. Before her accident, Lexi had ruled the school with her friend Taylor and her hot boyfriend, Ryan, but everything changes when Taylor hooks up with Ryan at a party, setting off a chain of events that leaves Lexi in a car crash. She is about to find out that she's more than just a pretty face as she slowly develops the confidence to make new friends and try new things while also learning to forgive. The teen's journey toward recognizing that things aren't always black and white—that more often than not life is a lot of gray—is riveting. Readers will be engrossed in her story as she struggles to adapt to her new identity, learns to accept that a senior photojournalist, Theo, is romantically interested in her, and comes to understand that her mom has actually been listening to her more than she thought. The relationship that Lexi develops with her dorky older sister, who offers practical guidance and much-needed perspective, is the highlight of this story. It's frustrating that the unwanted sexual advances that led to Lexi's car crash go unaddressed, but readers who enjoy satisfying character transformations, such as in Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall (HarperCollins, 2010), will be rapidly flipping the pages of Friend's well-written and thoughtful novel.—Rachael Myers-Ricker, Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY
After a car accident leaves Lexi's face terribly scarred, she is forced to figure out what is truly important in life. Lexi is the beautiful one. Her best friend, Taylor, is the wild and funny one. Together they are an unstoppable force. Everything seems perfect until one summer night when it all falls apart. After finding her boyfriend, Ryan, and Taylor making out at a party, Lexi wants nothing more than to escape. She begs a ride from Taylor's brother, Jarrod, who takes the opportunity to hit on her. An argument quickly escalates, leading to an accident that changes Lexi's life forever. Angry and bitter, Lexi pushes everyone away from her. It isn't until her sister, Ruthie, and Theo, a guy with no patience for Lexi's self-pity, are honest with her that Lexi starts peeling away the plastic life she once had and discovers the real one underneath. Authentic dialogue, complex characters and an interesting narration lift this story above others with a similar theme. Even when she's behaving erratically, Lexi's sarcastic wit and genuine emotion make her a girl readers will root for. These characters drink, are sexually active and swear, making them instantly recognizable to older teens. Artful and satisfying. (Fiction. 14 & up)
From the Publisher
"Authentic dialogue, complex characters and an interesting narration lift this story above others with a similar theme. . . . Lexi's sarcastic wit and genuine emotion make her a girl readers will root for. Artful and satisfying." — Kirkus Reviews
"Lexi's journey is rewarding and powerful. . . . Friend's (For Keeps) character-driven novel is an affecting and insightful portrait of recovery and the experiences that shape an individual." — Publisher's Weekly
"Readers who enjoy satisfying character transformations, such as in Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, will be rapidly flipping the pages of Friend's well-written and thoughtful novel." — School Library Journal
"This novel is about family, friends, love, and above all, the hard journey to self-acceptance." — Booklist
"My Life in Black and White is a realistic fiction that really has you wondering 'What if this happened to me?'" — Seventeen.com
Amazon.com Best Books of the Month for Kids & Teens: June 2012 — Amazon
Apple's June 2012 Books of the Month List for Children and Teens — Apple
"My Life in Black and White is a satisfying journey of discovery. And, thanks to Natasha Friend's wonderful prose, it's a journey that readers will be glad to take with her." — Bookpage
"A solid and adolescent-appealing premise, and [an] accessibly written story." — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
VOYA - Betsy Fraser
Lexi's life has been organized around the certainty that she is beautiful. She believes looks are what first enticed her best friend, Taylor; ensured their popularity through school; and allowed her to be discovered by a photographer, giving her the chance to start work as a model. When Lexi's face is disfigured in a car accident while getting a ride home after a party at which she witnessed her best friend with her boyfriend, the scars on the surface are just the tip of the iceberg. Only slowly is Lexi willing to face, and able to articulate to her friends and family, what happened at the party that prompted her to get into the car, and what actually happened to cause the accident. The dramatic aftermath of the accident, in which accusations are flung around, helps to illustrate what can happen because of rumors and innuendo. Several of the characters are left undeveloped. They serve as foils for Lexi, who makes strides in finding a place for herself that does not depend on looks alone while also making new friends, standing up for another girl, and taking an introductory boxing lesson. This will appeal to readers who enjoy realistic versions of the Gossip Girl novels. Reviewer: Betsy Fraser