The success of this book lies in how real it feels. The author describes Leah’s world in such painstaking detail, so much so that the places around her feel tangible. It is easy to imagine Leah’s cramped, dark room, where she locks herself away from her mom and her problems. It is also easy to imagine the way the characters look, especially Kurt King and his corduroy jacket. Furthermore, the relationships between the characters are very clearly defined. The way Wills shows how the Bakers take care of Kristy after she comes home drunk is enough to make anyone physically cringe. Rather than just saying that Kristy is spoiled, Wills demonstrates exactly how far Kristy’s parents will go for her by painting the picture and letting the audience in on the secret.
With that being said, Wills shies away from sugarcoating life, which in turn, can make the situations the characters face less than palatable. In other words, this book, though it does have a positive message overall, is not necessarily one I would find myself reading over and over again. It makes me uncomfortable at many points, which based on the subject matter, is exactly what it should do. Anyone looking for an escapist novel will not find that in SOMEONE I WANTED TO BE. However, SOMEONE I WANTED TO BE could be very cathartic for those both in and out of high school who did not have or are not having a picturesque experience. In fact, many of the problems the characters face are not exclusive to just teenagers, and therefore could appeal to a more adult audience as well.
All in all, SOMEONE I WANTED TO BE is written very well and offers an important and unique commentary on taking responsibility and finding one’s own self-worth.