Publication Date - October 4th, 2016
Publisher - HMH Books for Young Readers
Fifteen-year-old Shay Summers is trying to cope with the death of her father, being overweight, and threats from a girl bully in school. When she falls in love with Blake, a mysterious boy online, insecure Shay doesn't want to tell him who she is. But with the help of her two best friends, as well as an assist by Kermit and Miss Piggy, ultimately Shay and Blake’s love prevails. Girls Like Me is a fun and fresh poetic take on teen angst, social media and online anonymity, and high school romance.
My Thoughts:Hmm, I am not quite sure what to think of this book. The synopsis caught my attention mostly due the mention of an overweight character, but also the inclusion of an online aspect (which kind of sounds a lot like Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray) sounded interesting to me. While there were things about this book that I liked, in general, it was bit of a disappointment if I am being completely honest.
It has been a year since fifteen-year-old Shay lost her father. Ever since then, she has been living with her stepmother who continually tries to change Shay, mainly focusing on the way she looks through diet. At school, Shay is continually bullied, especially by Kelly, the most popular girl in the bunch. She is called a pig, people "oik" at her when she is around as a result of which she has learned a way to avoid possible embarrassing situations, like P.E. class. With a help of her two best friends, Shay navigates the halls of her high school like she's on a battlefield.
When Shay logs into an online platform recommended by her friend, she starts to chat with a guy with a username inspired by Waiting for Godot. The chats with this Godot guy make her happy and allow her to really be herself without the weight and all, but as Godot starts to suggest that they meet, Shay panics. Can he really like her because she looks a bit different than other girls?
Throughout the book, Shay struggles with her self-image and the way she is. She is at the most tender age when it comes to body image and such, and though I could feel for her struggle, I continually kept hoping that she would gain confidence and embrace who she is. I know it is not so easy (especially as someone who has gone through the struggle of accepting my body), but I feel like as this book processed, the way it probably wanted to express that "you are okay as you are" started to slip a little bit.
What I appreciated about this novel was the author's attempts to use the verse format to express the story. I often feel like this format allows the author less room to really flesh out the characters, and while St. Vil didn't completely succeed in my books, nevertheless, the verse format was probably my favorite thing about this book. As a media student, I also found the utilization of social media into the plot quite interesting, but that, for some reason, fell kind of flat towards the end of the novel.
I think Girls Like Me has a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I was left a bit unimpressed. The high school dynamics felt a bit too generic and the relationship between Shay and this mysterious online guy seems just a bit too underdeveloped. I raise my hat for the attempt to use the verse format though, which in the end, kept me reading until the last page.