Author: Laura Langston
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Sloane is given the biggest opportunity of her life—a chance for a film school scholarship—but she only has less than two weeks to produce a video. She also has to work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history.
Then comes a horrifying discovery: 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.
Huge thank you to Razorbill Canada for this ARC and opportunity to participate in this blog tour.
Before I begin this post, Laura Langston and Razorbill Canada asked each of the blog tour participants the following question: What’s the one thing you wish you could tell your teenage self about self image/body image?
I would tell myself that it’s okay to be an individual. In high school I was always afraid to wear what I wanted because I had a strong desire to fit in. It was so stupid too because at the end of the day, what did it really matter? I shouldn’t have been afraid to be myself, and I was. I loved my tube socks (they went great with my uniform infractions), I adored my side ponytails, and you know what? I would tell myself it’s okay to love me as well. Seriously, I loved this book and it has so many wonderful and beautiful messages. Be yourself, love yourself, and be fearless.
This is a difficult novel to read, and one I think many may have to be in the right mindset for. I think The Art of Getting Stared At is a rich story that deals with illness and body image, and does it in such a way that it’s easy to relate to, but also something to reflect on.
When Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia, she becomes what she hates. Sloane is someone who didn’t care about appearances or body image, but with her new circumstances, she becomes completely self-concious of the world around her. Sloane is an easy character to relate to — the discomfort that people are judging you, the fear of eyes all over you, it’s no wonder a lot of her personality takes such a drastic shift from the beginning of the novel. She’s very imperfect as well, and I think that is what I enjoyed most about her characterization: she judges others only to learn that if you judge others, expect to be judged in return.
Seriously, a lot of this book is about her transformation and character development. Sloane is not an approachable narrator, but she’s one that if you stick with, you learn a surprising amount from. Sloane also has to fight with her diseases and the world around her, so it was amazing to watch her grow and transform.
I did think Breanne was an odd character in the story. She is so mean and yet I don’t see what her point or deal was. Likewise, I was fine with the romance in this novel, but I didn’t entirely care for Isaac initially. Towards the end though, his character really grew on me and I could see the genuine care he had for Sloane and her project. The parental relationships were really done well in this story, and I had an insane amount of sympathy for Sloane’s step-mother, Kim. More than I thought I would because her characterization is someone who if I met them in real life, they’d probably drive me crazy. Still, the development between Sloane and Kim and how they finally connect together was perfect.
The Art of Getting Stared At is a fantastic look at body image, relationships, and the emotionally struggle of physical change. It’s a very thoughtful read and one that stays engaging throughout. This book is worth checking out if you’re interested in stories that deal with illness and overcoming personal struggles. I loved reading this book and despite some of my few complaints, I think it’s such an important story, and one that takes an overdone topic and makes it quite refreshing to read about.