Everyone thinks they know Lib
by Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
I received an eARC edition of this book courstesy of Penguin Books (UK) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
So I actually liked this book? Despite what everyone has written about it I thought it wasn’t offensive. I really dislike the fact that we (I use this term loosely, because I know that not everyone in the book community is guilty of this) judge books before reading them, I mean yes, okay. The synopsis didn’t quite show the book in the best light, but it still wasn’t an excuse for the amount of criticism that the novel received; I think the book was judged in vain and wrongly.
We did have the “self-conscious girl” meets “cute guy who technically shouldn’t fall for her” trope and suddenly there’s sunshine and rainbows every-fricking where (which I have to admit I didn’t particularly appreciate, but I was willing to look past it, given that the rest of the book was pleasing) . But there wasn’t any insta love, the love appeared at a very comfortable pace, it was allowed development instead of being shoved down our throats as per custom in YA Fiction. By the end, I was crying actual tears because of how beautiful their story was, honestly, I’d recommend reading this book solely for the wonderful ending.
Jack’s prosopagnosia was one of the most well-researched cases of neurological disorders I have had the chance to read, so huge kudos to Niven for putting in the effort into researching the condition, because I have read books in which the book could have benefited from more effort on the author’s part .
Plus the story showed the reality in which some people actually exist really well – and I honestly do not understand what everyone is flipping out about because we all ask for representation all the time, and when it is provided we aren’t happy ….. There’s something wrong with that isn’t there?
I feel as though it could have been a quicker read, but I’m currently willing to look past that as the writing style itself was quite pleasing. I also found it hard to connect with Libby at times, her voice could get slightly annoying at certain times and I generally have to say that Jack’s side of the story was what made intent on getting through the book. I found that he had slightly more depth and emotion to him, maybe because so much effort was put into writing his character.
Either way, I am really glad that I read this book, because I think the journey of acceptance and growth which the characters went through was not only important for the novel itself, but also successfully conveyed an important message to its readers, which is something we need more of in the genre.
My Rating: 3.75 /5 Stars
“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”
― Jennifer Niven,