I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is August 1, 2016.
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.
So for the first part of this book, I wasn't sure I liked it. I thought it was going to be a two or three star book. The plot started out as kind of blah and I didn't necessarily like Chelsea at first. For the first part of the book, Chelsea basically spent the entire time complaining about her weight. I don't know why this irritated me so much because I do the same thing. Maybe I just related to her too much. Her mom insists on putting her on diet after diet and everyone in her family and everyone at her school seems to love calling Chelsea names and telling her how fat she is. It's heartbreaking and kind of uncomfortable to read about. I also hated how Chelsea just smiled through all the bullying. I just wanted her to DO SOMETHING. But that's easier said than done because I was bullied in high school and said nothing. Apparently, I have higher expectations for fictional characters than myself. Take from that what you will. Now as much as I love fat representation in books and as important as I think it is, I wasn't really sure what the plot was and I guess I was anxious for something to happen. I was also afraid that this would be one of those books where the girl meets a guy and loves herself when a guy starts to or maybe she would only love herself once she started losing weight. I didn't want either of those things to happen.
But then something started happening about midway through the book and I slowly started to fall in love with Chelsea. I felt so bad for everything that she was going through and I hated that everyone in her life (except her wonderful father) was determined to make Chelsea feel bad for who she was. Chelsea always had perfect feet and she adored musicals and she was such a sweet girl. So why wasn't that enough for people? One thing that did help propel Chelsea's character development was the friendship of a wonderfully eclectic girl named Melody. Melody was hyper and intense and so wonderful to Chelsea. She really encouraged her to come out of her shell and develop some more confidence. And for the first time ever, there was someone who needed Chelsea as much as she needed them. I absolutely loved their friendship. There need to be more books with great friendships like that. Yeah, there was a guy that Chelsea was crushing on but he wasn't the one who inspired change and there wasn't a focus on romance at all. I loved that.
This is a very empowering story and is worth the read.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one. Not sure if it's worth the money, but I would still recommend reading it.