Kath, Natalie. The Summer I Lost It.
E-ARC from Net Galley, Publication Date 8/1/2011
Kat has always been overweight, but she is inspired by her Aunt Wendy’s weight loss to give dieting a try herself. Her parents can’t afford a “fat camp”, so she tries on her own to construct a plan of diet and exercise to lose weight. She wants to feel better about herself in summe clothes and hopes to attract the attention of the cute Josh. She has support from a variety of people, and makes good decisions about what to eat. She starts running and going to the gym, and finds that her energy level improves greatly. Eventually, she loses the 15 pounds she wanted to (a start), and her parents reward her with a trip to a resort where Josh’s family is also vacationing.
Strengths: The tips on diet and exercise are reasonable and would be very useful to a girl who was trying to lose weight but didn’t know where to start.
Weaknesses: The tone is rather didactic. This is a Stone Arch book, and they tend to be high interest, low lever books, so the writing is more text-book like.
Stewart, Kiera. Fetching.
E-ARC from Net Galley. Publication date November 8, 2011
Olivia’s living with her grandmother because her mentally ill mother has left home, and things are rocky at school as well. She has an odd assortment of friends that she has met through a board game club at school, but the local queen bee ,Brynne, picks on her mercilessly. After working with her grandmother to train dogs, Olivia comes up with the idea to use the dog training techniques are the whole school in order to allow her goth friend Maddie to run for class president. Most of the techniques have to do with presenting oneself as alert and competent, and the entire group benefits from them. Brynne and Olivia even reach an uneasy truce, and when Olivia is behind Brynne getting embarrassed, and she fights with her best friend Delia, the two start to hang out together. There are lots of changes in loyalties, romances, and both girls have some parent issues to work through. How will the election turn out? And is using dog training on an entire school a good idea?
Strengths: The individual characters, as well as their interactions, are extremely realistically portrayed. Lots of embarrassing incidents are described. The changes that the characters go through work as well. In fact, as implausible as this book seemed at the beginning, it was really good. Talk about “drama”. This will be hugely popular.
Weaknesses: I don’t see a school election having two entire months leading up to it, and there were some other details about school that made me think that the author hadn’t been in a school for a while. But then there are snarky descriptions of self-esteem assemblies that were right on the nose, so I’ll have to forgive the evil secretary!