By: Larissa | July 30, 2014 | (12) Comments

Review: The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura LangstonThe Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: September 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Pages: 304
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

After a school video she produced goes viral, sixteen-year-old Sloane is given the biggest opportunity of her life – a chance for a film school scholarship. She has less than two weeks to produce a second video, something with depth, and she’s determined to do it. The trouble is she has to work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history.

On the heels of this good news/bad news opportunity, Sloane finds a bald spot on her head. The pink patch, no bigger than a quarter, shouldn't be there. Neither should the bald spots that follow. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata. The autoimmune disease has no cause, no cure and no definitive outcome. The spots might grow over tomorrow or they might be there for life. She could become completely bald. No one knows.

Determined to produce her video and keep her condition secret, Sloane finds herself turning into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with their looks. She’s also forced to confront a painful truth: she is as judgmental as anyone else…but she saves the harshest judgments for herself.

I got this one unsolicited, so going into The Art of Getting Stared At I wasn’t sure what to except. I certainly hadn’t read anything before regarding  autoimmune diseases and their effects in YA before, so this was a very enlightening and refreshing read for me.

I had a lot of difficult mixed feelings towards the main character, and at first had a lot of trouble connecting with her. She felt pretentious at times and very judgmental, she was the type to consider herself “above” those who cared about their looks. Sloane simply considered them superficial and would rather rely on her smarts.  She was even judgmental to her own best friend, who would try to make Sloane care the slightest about her looks. Which you know, may be important if you ever went to a job interview or such.

Wow, you don’t wear make-up. Doesn’t that make so much more better of a person than me?? You’re truly a special snowflake.

Though Sloane initially grated on my nerves, as I went on in the novel I began to enjoy her narration. Sloane definitely went through HUGE character development regarding how she viewed beauty and her judgmental ways. I found her journey to be realistic, as it was based on her autoimmune disease. Once Sloane started loosing her hair she reacted in a way that I found to be quite relatable, as I personally wouldn’t be perfectly fine to loose my hair. She started to care about her looks and realized that they held a larger influence on her life than she thought. Sloane began to understand why people wore make-up, why people cared about beauty. She also understands that caring about how you look doesn’t make you any less of a person. Sloane learns about inner and outer beauty.

I actually began to sympathize with this character who I once hated as she started loosing not only her hair, but her eyebrows. I think some would think that autoimmune diseases like Sloane has are nothing compared to others. While this may be true objectively, this novel paints the picture that we shouldn’t compare two completely different ideals. It demonstrates that human nature has let us become people who are reason “well somebody out there has it worse.”  There’s something seriously flawed with this mindset and I’m glad this book brought it to light. Through Sloane’s emotional ups and downs you see that this disease brings its own set of trials that you have to overcome.

I feel like Sloane’s character development and realization of her mistakes is best summed up in these quotes:

I’ve been so worried about others’ judgments that I’ve paid no attention to my own

and

Appearance is superficial but beauty goes deep. Beauty is the way we live our life, how we dress, even how we do our jobs. Beauty is a art.  And with so much ugliness in the world, beauty is never wrong.

Beauty is doing the best we can with whatever situation we find ourselves in.

There were also parental relationships present in The Art of Getting Stared At. The most remarkable one would be between Sloane and her stepmother, Kim. This relationship was decidedly negative at first, with Kim representing everything Sloane hated regarding beauty and appeared superficial. There was excellent relationship development between Kim and Sloane though, and it was interesting to me how the relationship developed and changed throughout the novel.  Both Sloane and Kim certainly had different world views, but dealing with these differences is what made the parent relationship seem so realistic. In real life there’s certainly cases where kids think differently about the world than their parents, and this definitely raises conflict. I’m glad to say that The Art of Getting Stared At  tackled this issue in a way that felt organic and true to the characters.

I recently did a post that mentioned YA tropes, and of course we see another common YA trope in The Art of Getting Stared At. It’s in the form of the character Breanne, who undergoes absolutely zero character development. She’s the walking epitome of the mean girl trope. There’s no rhyme or reason to her hatred of the main character, it just exists. Breanne just floats through this novel, degrading Sloane and stealing her boyfriend. I wish we had gotten to see another side of Breanne, something about her backstory or history that has made her the way she is. There’s something that YA novels don’t understand, and that people aren’t mean for no reason. As humans we have a reason for our actions, especially if habitual, and it’s not just based on personality.

I didn’t mind the romance in this one, I was glad that it didn’t take over the story. It wasn’t insta-love at all, and even at the end of the story you just begin to see the beginning of a romance start to flesh out. I enjoyed the love interest and his personality. It wasn’t overbearing and I found him to be quite sweet. There was a scene at the very end that really showed his true character and it definitely made me smile.  There was an undeniable chemistry between Sloane and the love interest, they were drawn to each other and I thought we could really see that through their interactions.  I don’t really have much to say on the romance just because it wasn’t the focus of the story. This story was more of one of self-discovery and perseverance through tough times. I’m glad that romance didn’t take over the plot or the story really would have felt inauthentic.

Overall I would recommend The Art Of Getting Stared At  for those looking a tale of self discovery with loads of character development and strong parental relationships.

~Thank you Penguin Canada for the review copy~

3.5 Stars
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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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12 Responses to Review: The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston

  1. Rashika says:

    Okay. You hold on a minute while I go on and google autoimmune disease. Okay, I just did that. Now I am more knowledgeable.

    I like how the character underwent so much character development and I figure her unlikeablity.. well there was a reason for it because otherwise, she wouldn’t have grown, right? Right?

    I hate the mean girl trope but hey, I am all up for one trope if there are are good relationships between parents and I am sure the one between the main character and her step-mother definitely progresses.

    YAY for good love-interests, though! 😀

    I am so glad that you ended up liking this one, Lars (but seriously, find 4 star reads!)

    I am not sure whether I’ll read this one or not because… I am always a little uncomfortable when it comes to reading books that deal with disease (or parasites.. basically anything of the sort).. but I am glad this one worked out for you!

    Lovely review as ALWAYS, hon!!
    Rashika recently posted…ARC Review: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah FineMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Haha c: See Rashika, google is the answer to all of our questions. Google makes the world spin around~

      Yeah! This was a case where an unlikable character worked. She underwent this great character development and in doing so became more likable and realistic :]

      Yay they was definitely some interesting (and present omg) parental relationships in the story. To me they made the novel so much more complex and made Sloane’s personal journey more realistic.

      I know :[ This one was quite good but was just missing something. WHERE ARE THESE AMAZING BOOKS HIDING??

      Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of medical books either but this one worked out okay.

      Thank you girly <33 I love ya

  2. When I first started reading your review I thought it would be more about the auto immune disease which would have been interesting, but I didn’t actually realise it was about beauty. It sounds like there was some immense character development in this one, even though she had a few unrealistic ideals. Too bad Breanne’s development was stunted.

    Glad to hear the romance didn’t take over the story – could insta-love be a thing of the past?

    Lovely review Larissa!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz Review: Darkness and LightMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      It was about the auto immune disease, but more so the personal journey Sloane had due to the disease. This journey was of course very tough for Sloane, but I feel like it was beneficial when it came to character development. Unfortunately Breanne stayed very much static throughout the novel. I felt like there was untapped potential with her.

      We can dream Jeann! [; we can only dream.

      Thanks lovely <33

  3. Sarah P. says:

    Being that I am from the medical field, I perked up when you said this book has an aspect that could intrigue me. Is her disease called alopecia universalis? Please say yes so I can feel that I’ve done something right in my 4 years in Uni. XD

    Anyway, Sloane looks like a tough cookie to love. Pretentious and judgmental. Yikes! So I’m definitely glad that she grew as a character. I totally agree with what you said about people not being inherently mean. In one way or another, our experiences in life will define what we are and what we will become as a person, and isn’t it more realistic to read about a villain or an antagonist that’s more fleshed out and believable? I am super happy about the romance though. I think that’s one positive thing I’m really looking for in a book I’d read.

    Lovely review, Larissa!
    Sarah P. recently posted…Review: Evil Faeries Love Hair by Mary G. ThompsonMy Profile

  4. Larissa says:

    DING DING DING! We have a winner (: You’re correct, alopecia universalis is what this book is talking about. You’ve done at least one thing right in your four years of uni [;

    Yup, gotta say that pretentious and judgmental Sloane does grow as a character though. Yeah, I just don’t understand how people could be inherently evil or mean. Our past definitely shapes us. I love reading about villain’s with actual back stories who have real reasons for their actions.

    Thanks Sarah (:

  5. Zoe N. says:

    I am really excited for this one. I hadn’t heard about it prior to your review, but it sounds just up my alley. I really like the sound of the character growth in Sloane and how realistic and well-done her relationship is with her mother. Definitely going to give this a try and hope for the best. Thanks for putting this under my radar Larissa, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…Dangerous BoysMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Awww I hope you end up enjoying it Zoe c: The character growth of Sloane was easily the best part of this novel. The step mother’s relationship in YA is usually painted negatively, with little to no development so I’m glad this wasn’t the case in The Art of Getting Stared At. Thanks for the lovely comment boo :*

  6. Siiri says:

    Eeep! A Scarlet gif. I love her! Ugh, I hate characters like this tbh. Like.. there was this one character in one book by one of my favorite authors who was like: short skirts and giving a BJ to your boyfriend automatically makes you a slut. Well, eff you, Ms. Amazing, okay? STFU. It’s never okay to say something like this or even think something like this about another female. And same goes for make up. You may not like make up or you may not care that much about your looks, but don’t talk shit about people who do. I’m glad she really grows though! Yay that a stepmother and stepdaughter’s relationship was portrayed in such a positive light. “There’s something that YA novels don’t understand, and that people aren’t mean for no reason.” OHHHH THIS. THIS!!!! Slow butn? Cute romance? Sweet love interest? GIMME!!! I’m glad you enjoyed this even if you weren’t planning on reading it initially. Gorgeous, thoughtful review, Larissa! x
    Siiri recently posted…Lily Calloway’s Birthday Extravaganza & GiveawayMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah that girl is fantastic (: Ugh yeah judgmental and slut shaming characters are really difficult to like and support. Really us girls need to stop conforming to societal visions/judgments of woman and supporting them. Really, the growth was the thing that allowed me to enjoy Sloane’s character, without it I probably wouldn’t have rated this one more than a 2. Hehe it sounds like this one has a lot of qualities that you’re looking for.

      Thank you Siiri <33 you leave the best comments.

  7. Awwww, it’s nice to know that the main character was able to finally appreciate herself and the beauty of life. In this day and age, you find so many people who openly diss other people just for wanting to be more beautiful and prettier, saying they are the ones who are superficial. In a way, there are other people like that who are too obsessed with how they look, but there are also people who simply want to be more confident of themselves, and it’s always uplifting to see people realize that about themselves. AND YES TO GREAT PARENTAL RELATIONSHIPS. Isn’t it weird that this is more the exception than the norm? *shakes head*
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  8. Pingback: [Canadian 🇨🇦 Book Talk] The Art of Getting Stared At by Laura Langston | Reading In Winter

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