One of the things I love most about Erin Dionne’s books is that she really gets what it is like to be a bullied teen. She understands what it means to be different and uses that to create memorable characters in realistic situations. Her ways of dealing with bullies are ideas teens can use in their own lives once they muster the courage. Celeste loves Oreos and Twinkies. She would rather eat potatoes than other vegetables. Now that she is in eighth grade and trying on hideous bridesmaids dresses she is less than happy with her size. Especially since mean girl, Lively, uses every opportunity to call her a cow. To make matters worse, Lively is out to steal her best friend, Sandra. Sadly Sandra succumbs and ditches Celeste to join the mean girl gang. At the same time Celeste’s aunt signs her up for a challenge modeling plus size teen clothing. Celeste is mortified and afraid this will just be more fodder for the mean girls. Celeste decides to lose weight in order not to be considered for plus size modelship and to try and sabotage the competition. These situations lead her on a journey of self discovery and new friendships. Watching her transformation from low self esteem to a braver young lady is fun and empowering to watch. Dealing with Sandra after she was so cruel was difficult, but I love how Celeste handled it. Many teen girls will see themselves in Celeste and will relate to her struggles. I highly recommend this book for them. I loved it as much as Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt and Other Round Things.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
What makes a girl like Lively pick on a girl like Celeste?
Discuss how Celeste handled her faltering friendship with Sandra.
What is it about girls like Lively that attract other others and make them give up more meaningful friendships to be part of their group?
Discuss this passage: “I no longer needed Sandra to stick up for me, or make me feel good about my life. Realizing that was like losing a couple of pounds just from breathing. I felt lighter.” (Pg. 190)
Talk about the conversation between Celeste and her cousin Kathleen with they talked about pageants and the modeling challenge while making candles. (Pg 194)
What would you do if you were Celeste and overheard what happened to Lively? Is it right to use that kind of ammunition on someone?