I was both excited and nervous going into this book. I knew my enjoyment of it would depend on how much I could connect with the main character and how the issue of body image was handled. The premise had me on Ashley’s side before I even opened the book because her grandmother sounded horrible.
Most of the time I liked Ashley. She had her moments where she would say or do something that would make me cringe but overall, she seemed like a nice, smart young woman who cared about her friends and knew what she wanted from life. She seemed to know the type of person she wanted to be and was confident in the way she looked so it made sense that her grandmother’s so-called presents were never tempting until the tuition. It wasn’t just weight loss surgery for tuition. It was surgery for the life she’d been working so hard for and dreamed of for years.
I really liked the the main focus of relationships was on the friendship between Ashley and her two best friends. There was some romance and flirting happening but it was more in the background as the three girls dealt with issues like Ashley’s grandmother, Jolene’s parents, what to do after graduation. It was nice to see so much focus on their friendship.
I really enjoyed the first third of the book. It was a great way to introduce Ashley’s issues with her grandmother, explain her drive to succeed at school, get into Harvard, set up her home life. The middle of the book I found lost focus a bit and maybe tried to do too much. Instead of it being Ashley’s story, it felt like the book was trying to cram in stories for all the characters. While I appreciate and like growth in other characters besides the main, it felt like too much was going on. The last third of the book was better, it got back to being more about Ashley’s story, but it also felt a little crammed, trying to solve a lot of problems in too few pages.
Overall, the book tried to have a good, positive message but it got weighed down by trying to do too much and really only scratching the surface on the main issue.