Author: Sarah Dessen
ISBN/Publisher: 978-0-14-240176-7/Speak (part of Penguin)
Age Group/Genre: Young Adult
Fifteen year old Colie is sent to Colby, North Carolina to spend her summer vacation while her mom promotes her famous weight loss program in Europe. She used to be the fat girl, but lost the weight (thanks to her mom) and then horrible rumors were spread around the school about her and a boy. Now, she has the chance to start new, but is still having a hard time with her self-esteem. Aunt Mira's reputation in Colby doesn't help either. The town loves to gossip about odd Mira and how overweight she is.
Colie struggles in the new town with friends, but things change when she accepts a job at Aunt Mira's favorite restaurant. The two waitresses that welcome Colie are a little bit older, but share their wisdom on how high school goes, beauty secrets, and boys.
Will this summer vacation change Colie and allow her to see herself positively???
A major part of the book was friendship. Colie has a hard time with other people and is really a lonely teenager. What she really needs are friends to help pull her out of the darkness and we get to witness Colie's exploration of finding true friends. The people she meets are not her peers from school, but age and race and gender don't matter in friendships. Colie learns to gain confidence and becomes a better person because she opens up to friends.
A major lesson in this Dessen novel, was the element of self-acceptance. It isn't just Colie that learns this, but the other characters as well. This book shows that all people, different personality types...have issues with accepting who they are and most of the time find that others will not accept them as well.
This book has great messages for teenagers and I totally recommend it to them. But since I'm in my twenty's and I feel more confident with myself, this book probably would have served me better in high school. I'll definitely lend this to my thirteen year old niece. I will admit though, the constant reminders to sit up straight have stayed with me. I'll be walking around and realize that I'm slouching...so thank you Sarah Dessen for reminding me about fixing my posture : )
***My favorite quotes...they reminded me of my mom & what she would tell me***
Sit up straight. Slouching is the first dead give-away of low self-esteem. Isabel p.146
Believe in yourself up here and it will make you stronger than you could ever imagine. Isabel, p. 160 (she's pointing to her temples as she says this)