Book Review: Looks by Madeleine George
Meghan Ball is both the most visible and the most invisible person in school. Her massive size is impossible to ignore, yet people freely spill their secrets in front of her, perhaps because they think she isn’t listening. But she is. Now her attention has turned to a new girl: Aimee Zorn, with her stick-figure body and defiant attitude. Meghan is determined to befriend Aimee, and when she ultimately succeeds, the two join forces to take down their shared enemy.
This provocative story explores the ways in which girls use food and their bodies to say what they cannot: I’m lonely.
This is definitely one of the most poetic books that I’ve ever read, and I’m not just saying that because much of the plot revolves around poetry. The descriptions are fantastic, and I think George did a fantastic job of describing high school – particularly being an obese girl in high school. Meghan is super aware of everything that is going on around her. She knows things about everyone because they stuff in front of her like she’s not even there, like she doesn’t speak the language. This part felt extremely realistic to me, as I always felt like I knew more about people than they thought I did. People think that obese people are more noticeable, but we’re actually less visible in some ways because people often don’t seem to think of us as real people. It’s horrible, but it’s definitely a feeling I can relate to. I think that George went a bit too far with the invisibleness in some scenes, but overall I liked it.
I can also relate to how quiet and alone Meghan is all the time. She doesn’t have any friends. She wanders around on her own. She’s humiliated when people make fun of her, and George did a fantastic job of describing how it physically feels to be made fun of. I also feel like she’s done a decent job describing Aimee. I’ve never really understood anorexics, and while Aimee doesn’t admit that that’s what she is, George definitely brings up the subject in an interesting way.
I like how Meghan and Aimee are physically so different and yet actually have a bit in common. They’re both overlooked. They’re both at the extremes of BMI charts. They both have issues with food. They’re both people who want to be liked by others. I liked that that’s what this books was mostly about: two girls who find comfort and friendship in each other. It doesn’t talk about weight issues except to describe the characters. It doesn’t try to fix them. It just talks about them like human beings.
Sadly, there were also some things that I didn’t like. I didn’t like how Meghan literally ate herself into unconsciousness. Maybe there’s a subset of fat people I’ve never met, but I know that I’ve never done that, nor do I know anyone who has ever done that, and that just seems like one of those fat people stereotypes that isn’t actually true. We don’t just sit there and shove food down our throats until we pass out. As a fat person, that scene offended me. I also didn’t like how Meghan followed Aimee around all the time. I couldn’t help but agree with Aimee that it was creepy.
The action of this book wasn’t as upfront as I would have expected. The whole “joining forces” thing doesn’t happen until the end of the book. I didn’t really mind the slow plot, but the description of the book made me feel like I had been misled a bit. If you’re looking for an action-packed book, this definitely isn’t for you.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed most of Meghan’s scenes, as it’s nice to see a character that I can relate to so much. Those moments made up for the parts of the book that I didn’t like so much. I don’t think I would have liked this book as much if not for that fact. I also feel like the ending was a bit rushed. I would have enjoyed to see that sort of drawn out a bit and maybe resolve a few more issues. Overall, though, I’m glad I read this book.