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Never Enough by Denise Jaden
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Never Enough (edition 2012)

by Denise Jaden

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608197,694 (4.55)None
Member:l_manning
Title:Never Enough
Authors:Denise Jaden
Info:Simon Pulse (2012), Edition: Original, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Never Enough by Denise Jaden

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Lovely... ( )
  ThilW | Jan 26, 2016 |
Lovely... ( )
  ThilW | Jan 26, 2016 |
Originally posted here.

Going into this, I had completely forgotten what it was about, and I've never read Jaden's first book, Losing Faith, so I went into Never Enough blind. I love being able to do that, and reading this book was an amazing experience. I really hope I can do the novel justice with this review, and apologize in advance in case I don't, since I'm exhausted and filled with pre-BEA jitters.

Never Enough captured me and held me rapt all the way through. The book also surprised me constantly. I wouldn't really call anything that happened a twist so much as people acting in believably unpredictable ways. Rarely have been so unsure of what was going to happen in a book. There was really only one plot point that I saw coming. Not being able to predict the ending is so rare, and Never Enough was all the more meaningful and profound for the masterful storytelling.

Loann, the main character, is a wonderful heroine. She's an average teen: she doesn't look like a model (in fact, she describes herself as looking like a potato), she is not popular, and she has middling to low grades. At first, the story is about her and her troubles with her friends. For a while, she is friendless, and I empathized with her so much. Loann lives her life in the shadow of her older sister (a senior to her junior), who she thinks has the perfect life. Claire is pretty, popular and dating Josh, the guy Loann has had a crush on for ages, before Claire even met him.

As the book moves on, the book tackles more and more serious issues, although the primary one is eating disorders. Lovely Claire is wasting away, physically and mentally. Her life is constructed around lies that keep others from noticing that she's not eating. Having pretty much no food intake, she has no energy and simply drifts through life unable to figure out what to do, even though she's capable of so much. Seen through Loann's eyes, Claire's condition is unbelievably heart-wrenching, as she watches the sister she's always envied disappear. I loved how Claire's gradual change was captured in the state of her hair, slowly losing it's shininess.

These two sisters form a sort of classic pattern, the two people who secretly envy one another, unaware of what each has to offer. They both suffer from such incredibly low self-esteem, and it was unclear precisely where this came from. Jaden does not point to a particular root cause, instead showing their lives, allowing the reader to draw conclusions. She is not at all heavy-handed or preachy.

Two other things I need to talk about before I can wrap up this review are photography and Marcus. Loann is rescued from her friendless, useless (in her eyes) life by both of those. For her birthday, she receives a camera, a fancy one. She studies and learns how to use it, and discovers a natural talent for photography. The descriptions of Loann taking pictures are so loving and totally convey her passion for the art.

Marcus is a loner who she slowly befriends. There friendship has such a slow, but real, progression. Neither one is especially social or trusting by nature, so it takes some time for them to plant roots, but their friendship is so powerful once they do. Marcus is a wonderful character. He's a great guy, dependable, hard-working, and clever. However, he also feels like a real person with his strange interests, and his difficulty letting people in. Like Loann, he stands out amongst the usual YA characters.

Jaden handles seriously dark issues honestly and beautifully. This is a must read for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson. If you like your books painfully honest, do yourself a big favor and procure a copy of Never Enough. You won't be sorry. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
I lean toward calling this an unassuming novel [didn't expect the impact it had on me] and was pleasantly surprised at how I couldn't put it down. Centering on the relationships within Loann's life as a junior/senior in high school, especially with her older sister Claire, it tackles some difficult issues including abuse, eating disorders, and dysfunctional families. Though not a light and fluffy read, the author incorporates humor, strength, and hope, leaving the reader with a lasting impression on the mind and one's emotions. ( )
  DeweyEver | Feb 6, 2013 |
Loann is always being overshadowed by her older sister Claire. Claire is prettier, smarter, more popular- in short, Claire is everything Loann wants to be. As Loann begins to learn more about Claire's world though, Loann realizes things aren't as wonderful as they seemed. Claire's destructive behavior is much worse than Loann ever imagined, and Loann wants nothing more than to fix everything for Claire. Some things however are not easily fixed.

I put off writing this review for a long time because of the subject matter. Issues with body image hit a little too close to home for me. Watching Claire slowly destroy herself was extremely painful. I don't want to make this review about me and my issues, which is part of why this review is so hard to write. I have written whole paragraphs and erased them because it's just all about my issues instead of the book. However, this book really managed to bring a lot of that to the surface and made me question why females young and old feel this way. Claire's life is seemingly perfect. She has a great boyfriend and a good future. She's talented and beautiful and smart. Yet none of this is enough for her. None of it gives her the confidence and feelings of positive self-worth she needs to be able to do something as simple as eat. I think that while most women, like me, probably do not have eating disorders, they can find it difficult to accept and love their bodies.

Loann was someone who I think could have grated on me, but she managed not to do that. She could seem a little self-centered at times, but that certainly seemed age-appropriate for being a teen. Loann really did love Claire so much though. She wanted nothing more than to help and heal Claire, and I think it was difficult to discover that you can't just love someone into health. Of course, Loann also had to deal with her friend and his home situation as well. I don't want to spoil that, but I really just wanted to give Loann a big hug and some therapy. I hope someone was looking after her well-being as well.

I think I spent the last quarter of the book or so in tears. This book was difficult to read and beautiful at the same time if that makes any sense. There is a very fine line there between exploiting a difficult plot line for a reaction and writing something that means something. I think this book managed to mean something. I am working very hard to change my attitude and ideas about what makes a person beautiful and of worth, and this book really helped put some of that in perspective. So while it is not an easy read by any means, it is definitely a worthwhile read. Just keep the tissues handy.

Galley provided for review. ( )
1 vote l_manning | Nov 8, 2012 |
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For J.R.

because I never knew what else to do
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They say you shouldn't try to be someone you're not. But what about someone you almost are? Or how about someone you used to be?
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Sixteen-year-old Loann admires and envies her older sister Claire's strength, popularity, and beauty, but as Loann begins to open up to new possibilities in herself, she discovers that Claire's all-consuming quest for perfection comes at a dangerous price.… (more)

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