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Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Never Enough (edition 2012)

by Denise Jaden

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Title:Never Enough
Authors:Denise Jaden
Info:Simon Pulse (2012), Edition: Original, Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:Your library

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Never Enough by Denise Jaden



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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 |
As seen on WovenMyst -- YA Magazine

It’s never enough to be beautiful, talented, or everyone’s favorite. It’s never enough to be perfect. Loann, sweet young Loey, learns tough lessons about self-image and the pressures of popularity in the span of her junior and senior years of high school. Denise Jaden’s contemporary realistic fiction novel, Never Enough, may seem like just another high school drama examining the classic tension between the popular and the outcasts. However, beneath the surface lie two girls’ struggle with body image and the realities of life.

Loann is insecure, jealous of her older sister for having the perfect body and boyfriend. She’s seems like she’ll be the girl who believes pleasing people means doing what they want her to do. Contrarily, when a spat with her closest friends turns ugly she finds solace and normality in her locker neighbor, Marcus. This is most likely the best move she makes throughout the entire novel. Her friendship with quiet and calm Marcus develops slowly but surely and gives her glimpses into the real nature of her sister’s attitude. It wakes her up to the fact that Claire isn’t the nice girl she pretends to be.

Never Enough is an encouraging story showing readers the lighter side of a teen’s dark reality. Claire is falling down a wrong path. The signs are subtle until Claire begins making decisions to avoid the future she and her parents planned for her. She’s not just harming herself, but Loann and her parents are affected as well. Though the story is only from Loann’s perspective and readers only see her side, Jaden shows all sides of the situation by leading readers through the physical and psychological aspects of Claire’s downward spiral and how her actions shaped her future. As a recommended read for all corners of the reading community, Never Enough will touch readers’ hearts and souls. ( )
  LoveyDoveyBooks | Jul 26, 2012 |
Never Enough is a book about sisters and an eating disorder that may pull them apart. Neither the cover or the blurb that accompanied the ARC of Never Enough was enough to pull me into the story. It was the unforgettable characters and the writing that did it for me. What happens when you have 2 sisters who are complete opposites of each other, one quiet, shy, and self-conscience while the other is beautiful, talented and popular? We find out in the riveting new novel by Denise Jaden.

Loann is a young girl in high school just trying to fit in and get through life. Her life as she knows it isn't overly hard, and there isn't anything extraordinary about her, except her sister, Claire. Claire is beautiful in every way, she's talented, popular and dating Josh, Loann's crush. These sisters are basically the complete opposite, but they are sisters nonetheless. I could relate to Loann on some levels and I really liked her. Her character is real and believable and her emotions really drew me, as a reader into the whole book. Loann feels as though she is the key to holding her family together while dealing with the eating disorder that consumed her sister, but it`s tough and you could really see the toll it takes on her. She tries her hardest to make her sister and her parents see what this is doing physically and emotionally to the family but it seems that everyone is turning a blind eye on the truth. Denise Jaden does an exceptional job writing the trauma and the emotions of all of the characters, right down to Claire and her parents. Marcus, the boy who has been around all throughout high school but always went unnoticed has finally been noticed by Loann when all her other friendships go awry. He is a phenomenal character, probably my favourite in Never Enough. His dynamic relationship with Loann was great. They compliment each others personalities and it was nice to see a friendship like theirs develop without jumping right into the "I'm madly in love with you" relationship.
The detail that Denise Jaden puts into her work is amazing, never overdone. For example, the details that I really noticed and enjoyed was that her characters actually took their shoes off before going into the house. Being a Canadian as well, that point really stuck out to me and I could appreciate it since we don`t usually wear our shoes inside. And since Loann has a talent for photography, Jaden describes the photos down to the precise lighting techniques. Little things like this really added to the overall feel of Never Enough.

Going into the book I didn't realize it dealt with the issues that is does. Not only do we read about bulimia, we`re also immersed into physical abuse and unwanted sexual experiences (though the latter isn't prominent). These issues are serious and I'm sure hard to write about, but Jaden was able to write about them with such expertise and emotion that i felt as though I was there seeing things and I felt as though I knew these people and wanted to be there to help them. The mere fact that Denise Jaden was able to make such an emotional connection with me while reading, means she`s done her job perfectly. Even after I finished the book, I was still an emotional mess.

Never Enough is a strong book with multiple plot lines but it fits together like puzzle pieces, and once you`re finished you`ll want to step back and look at the whole picture. It`s just one of those books that everyone should read and remember for years to come. ( )
  krystal_osmond | Jul 4, 2012 |
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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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