Here in New York, David Levithan organizes a Teen Author Reading Night. About once a month, a few authors read from their first or latest books. At last month’s event, I was totally blown away by Looks. Madeleine George has written such an impressive debut novel that I had to share it with you.
This is the story of two girls, one who overeats and one who doesn’t eat enough, and how they enter a new phase of their lives together. I love how the title works on so many levels – how their physical looks stand out, the perceived importance of using how we look to fit in, disapproving and disgusted looks the girls get from other people, looks exchanged between two outsiders, a shared look filled with secret history. I also love how Madeleine captures the degrading qualities of high school so well, down to the ugly floor tiles that someone actually designed to look that way.
Looks is one of the most accurate depictions of high school I’ve ever read. Madeleine is a teacher (among many other things) and her classroom observations have clearly inspired several scenes. One of the best scenes involves the universal kid who always sits in the front of every class, busting a vital organ over the chance to answer every single question. The descriptions of her arm in the air are priceless.
This is Madeleine reading and Lynn Weingarten listening. Lynn read from Wherever Nina Lies, a gripping story about a girl searching for her missing older sister. It’s a beautifully written book. So now you have two recommendations for your To Read list. Sweet!