I recently finished these two books, though very different in main characters, they have the same overall message they're attempting to convey to teen girls: love yourself for who you are.
Pretty Face, by author Mary Hogan, introduces us to Hayley, a curvy teen that loves her food, knows that she won't ever fit into a bikini, and is obsessed with super-hot Drew Wyler. Hayley is often depressed and miserable, knowing that she is bigger than all of her friends (her mother constantly tells her) and certainly not pretty enough to win over a popular guy like Drew.
Her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer, to clear her head and live with her Aunt's family, immersing herself in the Italian culture. In the beautiful Italian countryside, Hayley is able to grow into a young woman, one who realizes that being curvy is considered gorgeous, where she is encouraged to eat what she wants, and even manages to fall just a little bit in love.
I really enjoyed Hogan's portrayal of Hayley. She came off as a very typical teen girl that you would find in any high school across America (she actually sounded just like me as a teen). I love that her body image was able to grow into respect for herself, in a way that did not seem contrived or fake. And Italy is just a wonderful place for a location!
If I had one minor "complaint," it would be the cover. Feet on a scale has been done before and for this specific book, it gives nothing to the wonderful adventure you're about to take with Hayley to Italy. More than a little boring.
This one would be great for any teen. A nice choice for library shelves (though I think it's only sold in paperback) and a great gift.
In Skunk Girl, written by Sheba Karim, we have a different type of body image, but it leads to the same place as the previous book.
Nina Khan is Pakistani and believes it is totally impossible to lead a normal teen life because of it. Her parents are incredibly strict and won't let her spend time with her friends and definitely won't let her date, even though the cutest boy in school seems to be more and more interested in her as the days go by.
As a Pakistani girl, one of Nina's biggest problems is her body hair. She's not allowed to remove it until she's older and is stuck wearing long pants and bleaching the hair on her upper lip...her nightmare, however, is the long stripe of black hair going down her back. She's skunk girl.
Nina not only has to come to terms with the strict rules she is required to abide by in her family, but she also has to learn to love herself for who she is, hair and all.
Skunk Girl is a nice choice for those battling culture issues, as well as body image issues. Another good selection for libraries.
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux