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Pretty Face by Mary Hogan
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Pretty Face

by Mary Hogan

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Mary Hogan gives us a refreshing read in “Pretty Face.”

The novel centers around the main character Hayley, who lives in Santa Monica and can’t stand it. Being fat makes her an outcast in California, in school, at the beach — even in her own home. Her mom urges her to fight the fat, but Hayley can’t seem to commit and doesn’t really know if she wants to.

Failing at fighting the bulge and at boys, Hayley pretty much gives up until her parents decide to send her to Italy. While there, Hayley tries to find herself.

A funny, witty fat teen in the lead — a character that you don’t run into enough — captivated me. I was pulling for her. I wanted her to win, to succeed, to find herself and be happy. I felt that I could really relate to Hayley and what she was going through. Her plight comes across very honest and raw.

Won’t you find out if Hayley gets her happy ending?

Final say: Fun, quick read. ( )
  youngadultish | Jun 28, 2011 |
It's a really good read for me. I fell in love with Italy and Rome and I wanted to go there if I ever had the chance. I felt envious of Hayley and I can really relate to her dilemma, having been called "fat" as well. I like how the book tells about self-acceptance and liking yourself for who you are, I've learned a lot from this. This book is worth reading!I don't like Hayley's mom though. I understand how she wants her daughter to live the way she was when she was still thin, but the way she pushes Hayley into dieting and eating healthy isn't really helping her. And her father doesn't seem to do anything about it. Why have a father like that?After reading the book, I felt like I wanted to have my own Enzo, who would love me for who I am and not just because the scale doesn't tip over every time I step on it. Guys like him are hard to find in today's world. ( )
  thekaisu | Oct 2, 2010 |
That's what I am.
A funny girl.
A friend.
Nobody's girlfriend.
The girl with the pretty FACE.

Hayley wishes she could love living in Santa Monica, blocks from the beach, where every day—and everybody—is beautiful and sunny. But she just doesn't fit in with all the blond, superskinny Southern California girls who have their plastic surgeons on speed dial. Hayley is smart and witty and has such a pretty . . . face. Translation: Don't even think about putting on a bikini, much less dating superhot Drew Wyler. A bikini will never be flattering, and Drew will never think of her as more than a friend.

Just when Hayley feels doomed to live her life in the fat lane, her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer—not for school, not for fat camp, just for fun. It's there, under the Italian sun, that Hayley's vision of herself starts to change. She's curvy, not fat. Pizza isn't evil. And life is so much more than one-size-fits-all. Who knows? Once Hayley sees herself in a new light, maybe the girl with the pretty face will finally find true amore.
From MaryHogan.com

I can't tell you just how sweet this book is! This really is such an amazing book! It's quick, it's light, and it's completely uplifting!

As the blurb suggests, Hayley is overweight, and unhappy about it. Her mother is pretty obsessive about Hayley losing weight, and kind of nasty with it - to the point where I wanted to strangle her. Hayley battles all the comments, and her own thoughts, with witty, hilarious comebacks. Her humour almost seems to be a shield she hides behind, which is so sad, but just so funny! Really, I was cracking up for most of the book.

But Pretty Face is also heartbreaking. Hayley is the girl with the pretty face, the comment always sounding as if that's supposed to be a consolation for her weight. Hayley feels so bad about the way she looks, and what that means for her socially and with guys really gets her down. Which leads to comfort eating, gorging when she's feeling down, yet ashamed of what she's doing.

'Flipping open my phone, I pretend to make a call. I wait for my pretend friends to pretend to pick up.

"Hi," I say into my dead phone. "I'm at the pizza place. What kind do you want?"'
(p41)

It's just so heartbreaking! But then Hayley goes to Italy and is changed by the lifestyle there. The easy living, the culture, the buildings, the beauty. She slows right down, and discovers what really matters. The descriptions of the buildings, the landscape and the food are just awesome! You really feel like you're there with her, and it's just gorgeous!

'Something is happening to me. I'm accepting myself more. Maybe it's seeing the ruins of Rome and realising how briefly we're on this planet. Or maybe it's just Italy itself. From here, Southern California seems like a mirage. Why have I spent so many years obsessing over fitting into a mirage?' (144)

Then she meets a boy, Enzo. One of the great things I love about this book is that it's a book about body image that includes a romance, rather than a romance that covers issues of body image. Hayley already started to change her atitude and start to accept herself before Enzo came along, and I think it's brilliant of Mary to write the story this way; Hayley's issues are mental, it's her attitude and opinion that need to change, and she does this herself, without the positive opinion of others sparking the change. But Enzo's opinion of Hayley is a nice bonus, and the romance is just the sweetest thing ever! Really, this sweet young boy with his broken English had me sinking into my sofa, "aww"-ing.

'"Vespa?" I ask.

"Little motorcycle."

"How little?" I ask. "I have a Harley-sized butt."

You idiot! I scream in my head. No jokes!

Laughing, Enzo says, "You're funny," and my heart sinks. Here we go again. How could I have slipped back into being my old self?!

Reaching up to run one finger along my warm cheek, Enzo quietly says, "You have beautiful body of woman."

My eyes instantly flood with tears.

"I sorry," he says. "I say wrong thing?"

I shake my head no. For the first time, a boy's words are exactl right.'
(p165)

'When I nervously asked if my body was okay, he answered, "No. It is perfect because it is the only house of you."' (p190)

Swoon-worthy or what? Pretty Face really is the sweetest story! It's just so cute, and just perfect in that Hayley's realisation comes about because of her own change in attitude. She sees herself differently through her own making, an it's just wonderful to see the change in her, and makes me hope this can happen for other other teenagers too. It's sweet and lovely, and at 202 pages it's a quick read everyone should pick up!

From Once Upon a Bookcase - YA book blog. ( )
  Stapps | Jul 5, 2010 |
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

Hayley's self esteem plummets even further when the guy she's been crushing on asks her if she thinks her best friend would date him. She leaves the beach, a place that she hates due to all the skinny girls in bikinis, and eats an entire large pepperoni pizza without tasting it.

When she arrives back home, her mother can sense there's something wrong, but she's more concerned about her daughter's weight than her emotional health. Then her mother delivers the news: she's sending Hayley to Italy for the summer to live with her old college roommate. She hopes that this trip will help her daughter lose weight.

At first, Hayley is hesitant and yet excited about traveling. Part of her wants to lose weight and make her mother happy, but she simply loves food.

Once in Italy, Hayley begins to relax and adapt to the Italian way of life. She finds beauty in nature, the old buildings, the delicious food, and, finally, herself. She discovers the freedom to become comfortable in her own skin.

While Hayley's weight issues drive her actions, the primary focus of PRETTY FACE deals with finding and appreciating yourself. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 12, 2009 |
This was a pretty good book. It was sort of like a cross between The Earth My Butt and Other Big Round Things and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. The main character is funny and pretty, but overweight, so most guys just end up as her friend. She goes to Italy and it changes her life and her perspective. She feels good about herself, loses a little weight, and falls for an Italian guy. Nice girly book! ( )
  4sarad | Jan 5, 2009 |
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Book description
Hayley feels out of place and overweight in Southern California, but when her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer, she discovers not only a happier way of life, but also a very cute boyfriend.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060841117, Hardcover)

That's what I am. A funny girl. A friend. Nobody's girlfriend. The girl with the pretty face.

Hayley wishes she could love living in Santa Monica, blocks from the beach, where every day—and everybody—is beautiful and sunny. But she just doesn't fit in with all the blond, superskinny Southern California girls who have their plastic surgeons on speed dial. Hayley is smart and witty and has such a pretty . . . face. Translation: Don't even think about putting on a bikini, much less dating superhot Drew Wyler. A bikini will never be flattering, and Drew will never think of her as more than a friend.

Just when Hayley feels doomed to live her life in the fat lane, her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer—not for school, not for fat camp, just for fun. It's there, under the Italian sun, that Hayley's vision of herself starts to change. She's curvy, not fat. Pizza isn't evil. And life is so much more than one-size-fits-all. Who knows? Once Hayley sees herself in a new light, maybe the girl with the pretty face will finally find true amore.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When an overweight high school student from Santa Monica spends the summer in Italy, she learns to relish life and understand the true meaning of beauty.

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