Overweight Hayley is tired-of Southern California, "where there are more gym memberships than library cards," of her mother's nagging about her diet and, especially, of being told she has a pretty face, a "veiled insult" if ever there was one. When her parents send her to spend the summer with friends in Italy, hoping to help her escape the pressure over body image, she is thrilled. Hayley does discover a healthier, happier way of life in Umbria; however, Hogan (Perfect Girl ) casts a rose-colored lens on the experience (in addition to having her own beautiful cottage and easy-going chaperones, Hayley falls in love with a turquoise-eyed boy who says things like, "I can't look at you without knowing you will soon leave me"). Even so, Hayley commands a sharp wit and delivers smart insights. Like Hayley, readers will question an American culture that is both thin-obsessed and dependent on fast food and cars, but this novel is not so much issues-oriented as a conduit of vicarious pleasure. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Pretty Faceby Mary Hogan
Hayley wishes she could love living in Santa Monica, blocks from the beach, where every day -- and everybody—is beautiful and sunny. But she just doesn't fit in with all the blond, superskinny Southern California girls who have their plastic surgeons on speed dial. Hayley is smart and witty and has such a pretty...face. Translation: Don't even think about putting on a bikini, much less dating superhot Drew Wyler. A bikini will never be flattering, and Drew will never think of her as more than a friend.
Just when Hayley feels doomed to live her life in the fat lane, her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer -- not for school, not for fat camp, just for fun. It's there, under the Italian sun, that Hayley's vision of herself starts to change. She's curvy, not fat. Pizza isn't evil. And life is so much more than one-size-fits-all. Who knows? Once Hayley sees herself in a new light, maybe the girl with the pretty face will finally find true amore.
High school junior Hayley struggles with her weight. She wants to be thin, but she can’t quite summon up the discipline to exercise and stick to good nutrition. Her mother is no help; she nags and pesters Hayley until Hayley takes refuge in a large pepperoni pizza. Then there is Drew, the boy Hayley definitely wants to know better. She and Drew become friends and Hayley is convinced that he really likes her for who she is, not what she looks like. The truth that Drew would like to date her best friend Jackie is devastating. Realizing that her daughter is in need of more than just a good diet, Hayley’s mom arranges for her to spend the summer in Umbria, Italy with a former college friend who lives in the hills outside of the ancient city of Assissi. The heat, the lack of American fast food and the reliance on her own feet start to make a difference for Hayley physically; the opportunity to be independent helps her emotionally. Hayley becomes friends with Enzo, a young man who works in his mother’s café. He shows her the real Italy and helps Hayley build a true self-image, one that includes her budding sexuality. Hayley has a witty voice and high school readers will connect with her longing to be more than who she is. Her journey to accept herself is true to life, but the sexual encounter, while not graphic, nonetheless adds a very adult dimension to the novel. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)
Gr 9 Up- Hayley is an overweight junior with a "pretty face" and a good story to tell. She feels the pressure to have a beautiful body in her Santa Monica high school and at home, with a mother who has recently lost weight and now insists that the whole family eat mass amounts of tofu. The bright spot in the teen's life is her upcoming date with Drew, but then he expresses an interest in Jackie. Worried that her life in Santa Monica is too stressful, her parents suggest a 10-week visit with family friends living in Italy, and Hayley jumps at the idea. As soon as school lets out, she is on her way, with a plan to lose 30 pounds and make over her life. Once she settles into life in Umbria, though, she indulges in the local cuisine and the local tendency to walk or bike everywhere. Over the course of the summer, Hayley does lose a bit of weight, but, more importantly, she gains a sense of self and has a little romance along the way. Told with a more realistic voice than the weight-obsessed fat camp participants in Sasha Paley's Huge (S & S, 2007), Pretty Face offers a positive example of a teen who simply needs to get away from her old routines and view her life from a new perspective.-Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA
Read an Excerpt
Mom bought me a digital scale.
"So you can't lie to yourself," she said. I glared at her, my right foot jutting forward.
"God, Mom," I scoffed. "I mean, God."
What else could I say? She was totally right. Yesterday, I shunted my rusty old IKEA scale all over the bathroom floor looking for the most favorable reading. Turns out, you can shave a full five pounds off if you put the bottom half of the scale on the bath mat, hang your toes off the front, and squint.
Today, it's no such luck. The digital scale won't read anything at all unless it's on a level surface. Thanks a lot, Mom.
Behind the locked bathroom door, I pee, kick off my slippers, drop my robe, step out of my pajama pants, and lift my cotton cami over my head. Taking a deep breath, I exhale hard, blowing all the air out of my body. Contracting it as much as possible. Then I step on my new digital scale.
I hear a sound.
Beep. Then a loud, robotic voice.
"One hundred and—"
Horrified, I leap off the scale. Mom bought me a scale that talks!? Is she out of her mind? Not only do I have to see the bloated number glow accusingly at me in a hideous green light, I have to hear the bad news, too? What else will it say?
Shave your legs, slacker. Would a pedicure kill you? Think you'll ever have a boyfriend with those thighs?
Mom shrieks through the closed bathroom door. "I'm calling Dr. Weinstein."
"Mother!" I shriek back. "Can't I have any privacy?"
"Your brother weighs less than you, Hayley. Do you want to weigh more than a boy?"
"His brain is only an ounce. Mine ispacked with weighty knowledge."
Mom presses her mouth up to the doorjamb. "I'm only thinking of your health."
I roll my eyes and turn on the shower.
"If you keep going like this," she says into the crack of the door, "you're going to weigh as much as two people."
"I've always wanted a sister," I reply. Then I get in the shower and let the hot water drown out my mother's voice.
The awful scale accusation echoes through my brain. Thirty pounds from where I should be. If only I were taller—five foot eleven, instead of five foot five! I press my eyes shut, feel the disgusting curve of my bowling-ball belly as I soap up. My arms are soft and fleshy. Even my toes are fat.
I hate myself.
Turning the cold water down, I feel my skin burn. I stand there as long as I can take it.
"Today," I say out loud, "I will be good. Salad for lunch. No dressing."
Quickly washing and rinsing my long brown hair, I step out of the shower and grab a towel before I can see my hideous pink reflection in the steamy bathroom mirror.
"Yes," I repeat. "Today I'll be good."
Mom is gone. Ragging on Dad somewhere, no doubt. Which is good because no way can I stomach one of her evangelical lectures about portion control. There's nothing worse than a former fatty who found God in fresh fruits and vegetables.
"If I can do it, you can, too!" she chirps constantly.
"Can you find the square root of sixty-four?" I asked her.
"Hayley . . . ," she said, with a disapproving look.
"See?" I replied. "We can't both do everything. There are differences between the two of us."
Mom doesn't get it. I want to be thin. Hell, I want to be America's Next Top Model, if only to out-bitch the other anorexics. But something goes awry every time I try. I don't know what it is. I think I'm improperly wired. My need to feed is stronger than my desire to—literally—fit in.
Standing before my open closet door, I flip through my clothes. Then I moan. They can put a lunar rover on Mars! Why can't they make jeans that don't make my ass look like Jupiter?Pretty Face. Copyright (c) by Mary Hogan . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Mary Hogan grew up near the beaches of Southern California (Bikinis! Aargh!), but currently lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Axel. She is the author of Perfect Girl, The Serious Kiss, Susanna Sees Stars, and Susanna Hits Hollywood.
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