From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family. Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special…even if that means betraying her sister. But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?
First off I have to say that Jaden nails the whole sister thing. I know. I come from a large family that includes 5 sisters and 1 brother. The scenes where Loann wants to be like her so-called 'perfect' sister felt so real to me. It also had me remembering my own teen years feeling I wasn't good or pretty enough next to one of my younger sisters. And like Loann I found that there was a price for that.
There's so much to love about this book. If you have sisters you know that there's rivalries, competitions, and yes, intense love that sometimes is hard to show. Yes, sisters can be jealous of each other. Boy, do I know about that! Also I have to admit we did comment on each other on the whole weight thing. Looking back, I feel bad that I did that. We also had secret crushes on boyfriends. Well, I know I did. I even ended up dating one guy that my sister liked. That's what resonated with me--how honest this story was. Yes, some of the subject matter is gritty and intense but isn't growing up?
I really loved Loann. Sure she feels like she walks in the shadow of her sister Claire and even has a huge crush on her sister's boyfriend. Also very real. What really takes this book to a whole new level is the emotions that Loann feels. You feel for her when her BFF turns on her and starts nasty rumors. You wept when she's betrayed by someone she trusted. You feel her mixed emotions when she finds out what Claire is hiding behind her perfect mask. You also cheer when she digs deep down and refuses to be a victim.
This story could have ended up preaching about the ultimate cost of achieving the world's definition of beauty. No, instead we walk in Loann's shoes and feel all her emotions as she tries to make sense of it all.
The ending has a huge emotional punch. I won't give it away but I felt similar emotions with a personal experience I had with my own so-called perfect sister.
A total must-read with multi-dimensional characters that sweep you along on the roller coaster ride called life.
2. Great voice
I think that I've only read about people with eating disorders from inside the mind of the one with the disorder, and as someone who has struggled with anorexia and bulimia in high school, I can relate with this, I know that sort of pain. What is new here is the narrator, Loann is the sister of Claire, the one with the eating disorder. You get a whole new perspective of the pain of not being able to get through to the one dealing with the food and body image perception issues. Loann is the first to notice, and she doesn't really know how to help or what to do, she also doesn't know the extent of the problem.
It is hard to read about how each sister admires and is jealous of the other, they don't see their own beauty and perfections, only their flaws. I think that is so common though. Many have such self esteem issues that they don't know how to find the good in themselves.
I also love the character of Marcus. He is such a perfect and frustrating nerd/love interest/friend. But it is so genuine. He has so much to hide but also so much to offer. I love his interactions with Loann, their sarcasm and dry humor towards one another, and how they slowly build their friendship one piece at a time. I know he's shy and like I said, has things to hide, but it is frustratingly cute how slow he is to admit his feelings and act on them. I love his sweet gestures like the photo developing supplies, and the cutout picture too.
Never Enough was well paced and kept my attention the whole time, even when I felt like I needed a box of tissues beside me. Loann is a fighter and I admire her, and I hate that Claire had to go down such a hard and sad road, she really broke my heart. The love in here is true to life and I appreciated the different take on it.
Never Enough captured me and held me rapt all the way through. The book also surprised me constantly. I wouldn't really call anything that happened a twist so much as people acting in believably unpredictable ways. Rarely have been so unsure of what was going to happen in a book. There was really only one plot point that I saw coming. Not being able to predict the ending is so rare, and Never Enough was all the more meaningful and profound for the masterful storytelling.
Loann, the main character, is a wonderful heroine. She's an average teen: she doesn't look like a model (in fact, she describes herself as looking like a potato), she is not popular, and she has middling to low grades. At first, the story is about her and her troubles with her friends. For a while, she is friendless, and I empathized with her so much. Loann lives her life in the shadow of her older sister (a senior to her junior), who she thinks has the perfect life. Claire is pretty, popular and dating Josh, the guy Loann has had a crush on for ages, before Claire even met him.
As the book moves on, the book tackles more and more serious issues, although the primary one is eating disorders. Lovely Claire is wasting away, physically and mentally. Her life is constructed around lies that keep others from noticing that she's not eating. Having pretty much no food intake, she has no energy and simply drifts through life unable to figure out what to do, even though she's capable of so much. Seen through Loann's eyes, Claire's condition is unbelievably heart-wrenching, as she watches the sister she's always envied disappear. I loved how Claire's gradual change was captured in the state of her hair, slowly losing it's shininess.
These two sisters form a sort of classic pattern, the two people who secretly envy one another, unaware of what each has to offer. They both suffer from such incredibly low self-esteem, and it was unclear precisely where this came from. Jaden does not point to a particular root cause, instead showing their lives, allowing the reader to draw conclusions. She is not at all heavy-handed or preachy.
Two other things I need to talk about before I can wrap up this review are photography and Marcus. Loann is rescued from her friendless, useless (in her eyes) life by both of those. For her birthday, she receives a camera, a fancy one. She studies and learns how to use it, and discovers a natural talent for photography. The descriptions of Loann taking pictures are so loving and totally convey her passion for the art.
Marcus is a loner who she slowly befriends. There friendship has such a slow, but real, progression. Neither one is especially social or trusting by nature, so it takes some time for them to plant roots, but their friendship is so powerful once they do. Marcus is a wonderful character. He's a great guy, dependable, hard-working, and clever. However, he also feels like a real person with his strange interests, and his difficulty letting people in. Like Loann, he stands out amongst the usual YA characters.
Jaden handles seriously dark issues honestly and beautifully. This is a must read for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson. If you like your books painfully honest, do yourself a big favor and procure a copy of Never Enough. You won't be sorry.