You'd think that her size would make her impossible to miss, but Megan Ball is mostly invisible at Valley Regional High. She's so off-the-radar that people spill secrets within her presence -- she may not exist to the majority of her classmates (or sometimes, to herself), but she knows everything about everyone.
The new girl, Aimee Zorn, is physically the complete opposite of Meghan Ball. She's skinnier than skinny. She reacts badly to almost every food other than sugar-free Jello, and she hugs her hunger to herself.
From the first moment Meghan sees her -- actually, from the first moment Meghan hears her -- she knows that on the inside, they are the same.
Looks is one to watch for. It reminded me quite a lot of You Don't Know Me. The occasional use of the second person was the first similarity I noticed, but as I read, it occurred to me that these girls were like John. Because of their status as outsiders, their secrets, their pain, of course, but especially because they observe:
In one visual gulp Meghan takes in the new math teacher: the wide, loose ass inside the too-tight pink pants, the faint mustache on her upper lip, the way she's digging the uneven nails of her right hand into the picked-raw cuticles of her left, the way the shapeless hair draped over her scalp trembles like a slab of liver every time she bounces off her desk. Okay, Ms. Flenser is an angry person. Ms. Flenser will not be spontaneously delighted to give Meghan a health pass on the first day of school.
Also, if the math teacher's name isn't a nod to Judy Blume, I'll... well, I'll be very surprised.
I've only just started thinking about it now, but the characters' status as outside observers, the use of the second person -- I get a real voyeurism vibe from both books. Not at all in a bad way. It's just there.
I loved it, loved it, loved it that while both characters very obviously have major issues with food, those issues never overpower the story. This in NO WAY is an Issue Book. It's about the girls finding each other, making a connection, reaching out.
I'm sad that it's only coming out in June -- I want to start recommending it to my patrons NOW. When it finally is available, I'll be giving it to my patrons who love the realistic fiction, to my aspiring writers and poets and to my teens who love words. And, assuming I can rustle up enough copies* come September, I'll be using it in my high school book club at the library.
*Which is sadly always an issue. Grrr.