"Filled with a great deal of teenage angst, this tale will be relevant to many young adults trying to survive daily pressures. De la Cruz might be best known for her fantasy work, but her realist work is strong as well."
"De la Cruz has a good handle on the details of eating-disordered behavior, particularly the disjunction between mindset and reality and having to hit bottom before getting help. Other plot points, though...end up feeling more contrived than realistic."
"Descriptions of Liv's disordered eating and self-harm never feel gratuitous or glorified; instead, her first-person narration provides both a mirror and window into an experience of bulimia-a form of disordered eating relatively rare in contemporary young-adult novels. Readers will root for Olivia. Well done."
"Paired with resources on how to get help with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression, this book is a welcome addition to any library that services teens."
-School Library Journal
What people see when they look at 16-year-old Liv Blakely: the slim, pretty, and artistic daughter of a California congressman. What Liv thinks they see: a fat, unlovable screwup who doesn’t fit in with her family or at her posh Los Angeles high school, which is filled with models and actors. Since the part that seems easiest to fix is her weight, Liv fasts, binges, and purges in secret. When her controlling father announces that he’s running for governor and her handsome actor crush starts noticing her, the pressure amps up, and her life gets even more out of control. De la Cruz (Alex and Eliza) has a good handle on the details of eating-disordered behavior, particularly the disjunction between mindset and reality and having to hit bottom before getting help. Other plot points, though, particularly Liv’s inspirational chance meeting with her favorite artist and her relationship with a boyfriend who veers from unbelievably perfect to unbelievably awful, end up feeling more contrived than realistic. Ages 13–up. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Jan.)
Gr 10 Up—On the outside, Olivia Blakely's family seems perfect. Her father is the Speaker of the House, her mother is the perfect wife, and her two older brothers are successful adults. But Olivia is not perfect. She believes she is fat, disgusting, and unlovable. Art is the only thing she remotely feels good at. To help herself cope with her imperfections, she binges, purges, and self-harms. De la Cruz presents several heavy topics facing teens including drug use, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, relationships, immigration/deportation, and handling family pressure. Due to the number of topics covered, such as sexual assault, not all are given the resolution they deserve. Self-love and acceptance succeed as overlying themes that don't feel didactic. Despite Olivia's increasing romantic feelings for her best friend, the protagonist ultimately decides that getting help for her problems and learning to love herself are her primary priority. Like the real world, some characters participate in risky behaviors and face no consequences. Use of alcohol and other drugs make this a title best suited for older teens. VERDICT Paired with resources on how to get help with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression, this book is a welcome addition to any library that services teens.—Ashley Leffel, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX
A high school junior struggles with disordered eating and a life in the spotlight in de la Cruz's latest. Blonde, white Olivia Blakely can't wait to escape her life in California and head to New York, where she's sure she can pursue her artistic career. Liv doesn't feel like she fits in at her elite private school, which is full of socialites and celebrities. Her emotionally distant politician father is running for governor, garnering the family unwanted attention, especially unwelcome since her relationship with her body is unbearable. Fat-shamed by both her brother and her first boyfriend, Liv's been unable to shake the nagging, pressing, all-consuming cognitive distortions that feel only temporarily relieved by binging and purging, abusing alcohol, and, occasionally, cutting. Her only solaces are her two best friends and her crush on a Korean-American actor/classmate. But as men increasingly attempt to control her (her father's campaign manager inspecting her image; her crush's best friend assaulting her), her body, her potential career, and her potential to find love feel like they're spiraling dangerously out of her control. Secondary characters have a diverse range of ethnicities and sexualities. Descriptions of Liv's disordered eating and self-harm never feel gratuitous or glorified; instead, her first-person narration provides both a mirror and window into an experience of bulimia—a form of disordered eating relatively rare in contemporary young-adult novels. Readers will root for Olivia. Well done. (Fiction. 14-18)