________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 1 . . . . August 29, 2008

cover Posing as Ashley.

Kimberly Joy Peters.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
190 pp., pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-87-2.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Lisa Doucet.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.

excerpt:

“What’s so bad about having a good cry?” Caitlyn asked. “I mean, I think an unexpected break-up after two years justifies some tears.”

“I don’t think as clearly when I let my emotions take over.” I said, still breathing slowly and working hard to control my voice. “I’m already starting to wonder whether we’d just be on ‘a break,; instead of permanently broken up if I’d been able to control my anger back on the hill with Brandon.”

I looked around her room and saw so many reminders of her ex: the paint color they’d put up together, the goldfish he’d given her, the self-portrait – full of anger and pain, and strangely enough, hope – that she’d done right after their break-up.

She let me continue. “But then again, maybe I need to control things less…I’m such a neat-freak that I don’t even have any big reminders of Brandon on my walls,” I blubbered.

“At least you don’t have any big reminders of him on your body, either,” she said with a half smile. At first I thought she might be referring to the bruises her abusive ex had given her, but then I saw she was pointing to the belly-ring he’d pressured her into getting. At that point, I knew that she was encouraging me to go easier on myself.

“Yeah,” I said as I smiled back, as much as I could, and then my voice cracked. “Do you think I was being selfish, not agreeing to ‘just date,’ since we would have been separated all summer anyway? It could have worked out…he would have been happier that way. His mom would have been okay with it. Why couldn’t I make myself okay with it?”

“Because as hard as you try,” Caitlyn said, “you can’t always make everyone happy. And if he doesn’t want to go out with you exclusively anymore, then he doesn’t deserve you anymore,” she said. “So never settle.”

 

Although on the surface Ashley seems to have it all (she’s smart, beautiful, has a gorgeous boyfriend), things start to get a little rocky for her just as summer begins. When Brandon, her boyfriend of the last two years, tells her that he wants to take a break from their relationship and be free to see other people, Ashley’s heart quietly shatters. What did she do wrong? How could this be happening, especially now when she is already trying to deal with her anxiety over her mother who is waging her own war with breast cancer? Devastated, hurt and angry, she is relieved to, at least, have her volunteer work at a local animal shelter to provide a much-needed distraction, and to have her best friend Caitlyn to turn to for comfort and support.

      Then her father throws yet another surprise at her, inviting her out to dinner to meet his new girlfriend, Gabriella. At first, Ashley isn’t sure what to make of this new woman in her father’s life. However, Gabriella doesn’t waste any time. As the owner of a local modeling school, she is convinced that Ashley has what it takes to enjoy a successful career as a model, and she encourages her to take a major step in that direction by registering for an upcoming modeling convention. Despite her initial reservations, Ashley is soon swept up in Gabriella’s enthusiastic plans, and she throws herself wholeheartedly into preparations for this important event. But once immersed in the world of modeling, Ashley learns what goes on behind-the-scenes and also what sorts of sacrifices she will have to make to pursue this career. More importantly, however, she learns more about herself and who she wants to be.

      Not unlike her companion novel, Painting Caitlyn, this latest work from Kimberly Joy Peters is destined to be a popular pick amongst teen girls and will likely hold great appeal for reluctant readers with its focus on modeling. It features an immediately likeable protagonist whose desperate need to always try to please everyone else in her life will resonate with many readers. Ashley’s story is simply told, and readers will not struggle to discern the meaning or message that the author is trying to convey.

      Although Ashley occasionally runs the risk of sounding too preachy, too mature in her realizations (particularly in how easily she comes to terms with her breakup and is able to see things from Brandon’s point of view – admirable but not entirely believable) and things also tie up just a little too neatly for her, she is nevertheless an authentic and engaging character with whom readers will identify and root for. Her experiences at the modeling convention and in the early days of her fledgling career as a model will hold a definite allure for many teen girls, and hopefully her courage to stand behind her convictions will be a source of inspiration as well. Altogether, it is an uncomplicated, highly readable and worthwhile book.

Recommended.

Lisa Doucet is a bookseller at Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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