My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 1st 2016
Publisher: Switch Press
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Bullying, High School, Self-Confidence
Chelsea Duvay is so many things. She s an avid musical lover, she s a gifted singer, and she has the most perfect, beautiful feet. But no one ever notices that. All they notice is Chelsea s weight. Daily, Chelsea endures endless comments about her appearance from well-meaning adults and cruel classmates. So she keeps to herself and just tries to make it through. Don t make waves. Don t draw attention. That s how life is for Chelsea until a special class project pushes the energetic and incessantly social Melody into Chelsea s world. As their unlikely friendship grows, Chelsea emerges from her isolated existence, and she begins to find the confidence to enjoy life. But bullies are bullies, and they remain as vicious as ever. One terrible encounter threatens to destroy everything Chelsea has worked so hard to achieve. Readers will be captivated by Chelsea s journey as she discovers the courage to declare her own beauty and self-worth, no matter what others might think. A must-read for anyone who loves to explore the personal but powerful territory of everyday life.”
Enduring is never the right choice.
It kills you from the inside in a painstakingly slow manner. It can kill your self-confidence, your appetite, your hopes, your dreams, your passions and, even, your reason for existing. Bullying is not something I’m unfamiliar with… so when I say that keeping it all in and just letting it all resolve itself is the worst possible thing, I mean it.
Fortunately, this book’s message is not to let the aggressors win, though there are moments when you will want to shake Chelsea and make her see reason. She’s fat. Her mother, her doctor and her classmates never make her forget it. She could discard that piece of information about herself from her mind and peacefully live with her body, but other people’s stares get to her and psychologically affect her.
She’s being bullied, abused, controlled and played with. All she wants is for everyone to see past her appearance. She’s a beautiful girl, but no one cares to discover that about her. Chelsea endures it all. She swallows everything. I don’t know how she does it. She’s strong, because if I were her and lived through everything she does, I would not have been able to resist very long before crashing down.
The only problem with Chelsea is that the author makes it hard for the reader to feel bad for her in the beginning. She’s tired of being judged and of having predators. She hates it. Who wouldn’t? So why does she keep judging everyone around her? She meets someone? BAAM. She enumerates every flaw she senses about that person. That girl, she’s a Barbie and the other one, a drama queen. Those kids over there, they’re huge brats. It’s hard to feel bad for someone who is always been judged, if that person judges in return.
It’s a good thing that it doesn’t last for long. Thanks to a new friend Chelsea makes, her world starts gaining colour and she begins to focus less on the negative things in her life and more on the positive things.
Interestingly enough, despite the painful subject and a specific mature-ish scene, it almost read like a middle grade book. The atmosphere is calm, the characters are level-headed but innocent or, for the bullies, reckless and, frankly, stupid, the writing is extremely simple but does the trick and the slight romance aspect of the story childish. Chelsea is sixteen years old and I wouldn’t see ten-year-olds reading this, but I wanted to warn you that it will feel young.
With a simple but pleasant writing style, Chris Struyk-Bonn manages to weave together a hopeful and heartfelt story recommended to fans of Courtney Summers.