This story is told in journal entries for a class project from Maisie, in which she needs to document her discoveries during her Christmas break. Her family always spends the break at their cabin, next to their family friends, including Maisie’s crush, Sebastian, whom she always gets completely tongue-tied around. This year her father can’t come, and so she’s taking her best friend Anna along to help her get over her broken heart. But nothing on this vacation is going according to plan, though things never do in Maisie’s world.
Maisie is overweight, and she is surrounded by people who claim they love her but make her feel bad for who she is, so she’s incredibly uncomfortable in her skin and she has a very poor self-image. “I can’t remember the last time I felt that way. Comfortable in my skin.” My heart broke for Maisie time and again in this book because she had no support from her mother and sister, even her best friend wasn’t that great of a best friend. It took Maisie meeting some new people for her to realize she could have friendships in which people accepted her for her. But when you don’t accept yourself, you don’t allow other people to accept you.
There’s a lot going on in this book. Maisie’s enduring crush on Sebastian, what feels like a betrayal from Anne, Maisie making new friends, her desire to enter the yearly competition which her sister has won previously, finding love, and Maisie coming to a place of self-acceptance. She didn’t want to journal at all, but it’s allowed her to look inside herself, to evaluate her feelings, and to chart her progress. She’s incredibly funny and that shines through the incredible self-hatred she’s experiencing. I loved the diversity of the characters, I loved the support Maisie finally found, and I love that she’s learning to love herself. A great YA read, a must-read for everyone.