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Friday, May 25, 2018

Review: Hollow Beauty by Khristina Chess



Title: Hollow Beauty
Author: Khristina Chess
Format: Paperback, 225 pages
Pub. Date: September 13th 2014
Source: Goodreads First Reads


Book Description:



When tall, gorgeous Brody asks Olivia to the prom, she’s ecstatic—until he suggests that she use the two months before the dance to lose some weight. Does he think she’s fat? His comment sends Olivia on a spiral of insecurity and dangerously rapid weight loss that borders on anorexia.

As her pounds vanish, her friendship deepens with Ross, the new prep cook at the diner where she works. Despite his mysterious limp, he doesn’t suffer crippling low self-esteem like Olivia does; usually, she can’t even look at herself in the mirror anymore. But when she’s riding dirt bikes and searching for caves with Ross, she doesn’t feel ugly or fat, just herself again—hanging out and having fun.

With Brody, instead of finding the romance and true love she had hoped for, she feels like a terrified rabbit that he’s going to devour. She refuses to think about that. She’s almost thin enough to be beautiful for the prom.

And then the unthinkable happens.






Review:


★★

I'm always interested in realistic young adult books. The ones that address the tough stuff: eating disorders, self harm, conversion therapy, depression. Those are the books that helped me the most when I was that age, and I still look to them in adulthood. This isn't the first book on eating disorders that I've read, and it's something that I've dealt with in real life as well. Unfortunately, I didn't think that Hollow Beauty did a very good job with this topic.

What bothers me the most, I think, is how quickly the eating disorder issue presents itself. The boy she has a crush on tells her she needs to lose weight on page 4 of the book. And she just clings to this and the disorder starts. Did she have self-esteem issues before? Is weight something she's struggled with before? Was she already thinking about slimming down? I don't know. In the first few pages up to that point, she is happy with some fries after a sports meet. And then like lightning, out of nowhere, it begins. I wish that there was more about Olivia at the beginning, because it is so instantaneous that it comes off as odd.

I also don't really think her weight loss seemed realistic. People noticed the second she lost even a tiny bit of weight, and felt the need to comment on it. No one notices a pound or two, especially for athletes, who are always getting into shape. Not to mention that she's super rude to anyone who even shows a little of concern.

Her version of love just makes me sad. That you need to be all oogly eyed and lovey dovey and holding hands. Her judge of character at one point is that the jerk she likes doesn't open her car door, but the friend who zomg she can't POSSIBLY have feelings for, does. Such an odd little thing to use as a measurement, but whatever floats your boat I guess?

Another thing that bugged me is that while Jerk is talking about sex with her, and she's clearly uncomfortable with all of it, she has the bright idea that maybe she should just drink first so she'll like it. I'm sure that some girls out there really think like that but GOOD GOD, NO. In another moment of oddness, Olivia- who gets upset when she is even just a few calories off of where she thought and can't eat much without hating herself- slams a hard lemonade without thinking about it. Alcohol is terrible for you, weight loss wise, especially something as sugary as a Mike's.

I know I have a lot of problems with this book, but it wasn't ALL bad.

I liked that at the start of each chapter, it gave Olivia's current weight, and her goal weight. It was a good way to organize where she is in the journey and to keep track of what's going on.

I loved Ross, the friend she makes at the diner. He has a scar and a limp and is always kind to her. He's patient when she asks a million questions about his hobby, he shows concern for her weight loss, and I think it's cute that, as he's a cook, he just wants to feed her. If he was in this story more, I would have liked it more.

The book also does a good job of showing how toxic the internet/online groups can be. She joins a weight loss site called Blubber Busters which has a forum. She realizes quickly that support isn't always helpful, and that some of these girls take the weight obsession too far. While I'm not on eating disorder/weight loss apps, I am in other communities that definitely have some cesspools. I think it was a good thing to include.

There's also discussion questions in the back, if you're reading this for a club or class or something.

Overall, I found this book problematic and it wasn't for me. But it wasn't a total loss. There were some parts that were well represented, and enough interesting points that kept me reading until the end of the book. This might be a case of "it's not you, it's me", since other people seem to really like it. But, it just wasn't the book for me. Perhaps it'll be a better read for you.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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