Published by Pan Australia on February 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE SUMMER OF THEIR LIVES?
This summer is probably not going to be that.
Source: Everything that's happened since yesterday ...
The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she'd be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.
Not when she's spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.
Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie's shaky confidence. And her best friend starts going out with the boy she's always loved.
But Maisie's got something to prove.
As she writes down all the ways this summer is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn't let anything, or anyone, hold her back...
I wasn’t sure what to expect from What I Like About Me because the synopsis reminded me so much of Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, with the beauty pageant and body positivity aspects. But What I Like About Me is definitely a vastly different book to Dumplin’. It is very quintessentially Australian and I related to it much more than I related to Dumplin’ because of this. Here are the top five things that I liked about What I Like About Me:
1. The journal entry format
While it can sometimes come across as a little bit juvenile, What I Like About Me is written as a series of daily journal entries by our protagonist Maisie. Her English teacher has assigned her a ‘discovery journal’ to complete as homework over the summer and, while Maisie initially hates the idea, it soon becomes an outlet for her emotions. Perhaps it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that’s formatted this way, but I found it really refreshing to read.
2. Maisie was incredibly relatable
We’ve probably all suffered from a lack of self-esteem at some point in our lives, whether it is related to body image or not feeling as worthy of love as others around us. What I Like About Me tackles these issues beautifully and it was difficult not to relate to Maisie. She perfectly embodied the different concerns that adolescents have, from finding first love to coming to terms with who she is as a person. I felt like I was able to laugh with her and cry with her through all of the experiences she had to go through.
3. The importance of good friendships
Maisie meets some great people throughout the book who encourage her to be the person she wants to be and do the things she wants to do. Leila was a great introduction to the cast of characters and she encouraged and empowered Maisie, never pushing her past her limits and always respecting her as a person. This was in stark contrast to Maisie’s best friend, Anna, who Maisie brought to her family’s summer beach house with her. Anna is the skinny, popular girl at school and was not the best person to be friends with. Not only was Anna more interested in making out with Maisie’s childhood crush, she didn’t really have Maisie’s best interests at heart and ended up behaving in self-serving ways up until pretty much the very end.
4. The romance was cute
Despite it being incredibly predictable from the very first few chapters, I still enjoyed the romance. I thought the love interest was just a very nice guy. He saw Maisie for who she was and did his best to always communicate that she was talented and great as the person she was. Not to mention, he writes deep and heartfelt poetry!
5. Beautiful family moments
What I Like About Me is not just about the friendships, romance and self-discovery. There were also family elements that I highly enjoyed reading about. Throughout the book, Maisie is not only worried about the increasing likelihood that her parents are going to get a divorce, but is also struggling with being back in the town where her perfect older sister had previously won the beauty pageant that she had dreamed of them entering into together. Having always been in her sister’s shadow and dealing with feeling like her overbearing mother’s second favourite child, Maisie decides to make this summer about making herself be seen. I loved how the family came together when it mattered and it was probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book.
There’s a lot to like about What I Like About Me. It exceeded all of my expectations and I thought it was a wonderfully charming, empowering and relatable read, with everything from romance, friendship, family and the beach!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a review copy of the book.
What I Like About Me was released on 26th February and is now available at all Australian retailers for $16.99 RRP.
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