Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: September 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
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
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~
Latest posts by Larissa (see all)
- I Guess This Is Goodbye - August 28, 2015
- Discussion Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes - July 20, 2015
- Review: Survive the Night by Danielle Vega - July 4, 2015
- Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction Struggles - June 20, 2015