As with all my book discussions, there are some SPOILERS below.
I love the idea of opposites attracting. That’s what drew me to this book. The main characters are Meghan Ball, a very overweight teenager, and Aimee Zorn, an anorexic. This is an interesting story of how these two unlikely teenagers become friends.
I thought the characterization strategies used in this book were intriguing. Aimee’s character was very clear from the time she was introduced. Her point of view is third person limited – we get right into her head and never leave it. Her voice is very clear, so we always know instantly when it’s her turn to tell her story. We get to know her family life, as well as what motivates her. She’s very real, leaps off the page, and I really felt for her when things started to go wrong.
Meghan’s story is a bit different. In school, she’s practically invisible. Ironic, since she’s so large. But people just don’t notice her presence. As a result, she overhears much more than the speakers intend, simply because they don’t realize she’s there. It’s like she has an omniscient point of view regarding nearly everyone around her. To draw on that, the point of view chosen to tell Meghan’s story has a touch of omniscience – we’re inside her head, yet we’re always just a little outside, too.
The writer geek in me loves the idea of drawing a parallel between the omniscience Meghan experiences and the omniscience the reader experiences. But the practical side of me can’t help but notice the limitations. We’re never fully inside Meghan’s head. We don’t ever see her family life from her point of view – and her family doesn’t even enter the picture until near the end. We’re kept a certain distance from her, which made it harder for me to both sympathize and relate to her. And I really, really wanted to do both of these things.
Because of this lack of sympathy, it made the book’s resolution a little hard to digest. Meghan exacts revenge on one of her classmates. In order to understand her motivations, I needed to be able to feel how she’d been hurt. How she felt she’d been wronged. But that element was missing, so it made her seem a little petty. Had her role been switched with Aimee, I’m sure I would have understood everything and sympathized accordingly. But, in the end, it came down to Meghan. So, while I still liked the story, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.
From a writer’s perspective, this is a really cool book to read. In just one story, you can get effective examples of third person limited and third person omni. And you can see how one measures up against the other.