I had seen this book all over Instagram and I was very intrigued. So many of the captions were saying how much they loved this book and how it made them laugh and cry. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that made me laugh AND cry so I decided to give it a go and it did not disappoint.
Maisie Martin spends every summer with her family at Cobber’s Bay; a remote town on the northern beaches of New South Wales. This year however, is different. Maisie’s dad says he has to work through the holidays and Maisie’s best friend, Anna has just broken up with her boyfriend. So Maisie, her mum and Anna make the annual trip together. However, things don’t go quite to plan when Anna takes an interest in Maisie’s childhood friend and ultimate crush, Sebastian, and Maisie is stuck hanging out with Beamer (the totally uncool and gross best friend of Sebastian).
On top of all this, Maisie is dealing with the return of her sister; a sister that set impossible standards by winning the Cobber’s Bay Beauty Pageant a few years a go. Maisie never dreamed of entering but after a troublesome day with Anna, the return of her sister, and her mum being more overbearing than usual, Maisie takes a chance with the help of a fairy god mother type character, and fills out the entry forms for this year’s pageant. Amazed at her daring, Maisie is even more shocked when she is named as one of the entrants for the pageant and needs to decide whether she will compete or not.
Maisie will battle against society’s traditional expectations of beauty, while trying to mend the rifts that have formed within her family, and while deciding what true friendship means.
This book made me laugh and cry, and it’s been a while since a book did that. I love Maisie as a character. She’s so relatable as a sixteen year old and also very Aussie. She’s down to earth but also dealing with the typical teenage struggles of friendships, boys, and body image.
The thing about Maisie is that she is a bigger girl. At no point are we actually given an exact size or weight, nor is Maisie’s body shape explicitly described. However, we do learn that she likes to cover up and when she is named as a competitor in the pageant there are claims that she’s only been named because she’d be considered a plus size competitor. Maisie’s eventual involvement in the pageant is one of those moments of pure, tear jerking joy. Honestly, I had tears streaming down my face the entire time I was reading those scenes. I won’t say anything more here as I don’t want to spoil anything!
So, apart form the pageant, there’s also some underlying family and friends issues going on here that are just so relevant. Maisie is dealing with the idea that her parents’ relationship may not be “ok.” She struggles to come to terms with that but also knows that it’s something her parents have to sort out. It’s interesting watching that dynamic play out and how Maisie feels about it all. Add to that the issues that Maisie is having with her friend Anna, and this book is full of personal growth.
Overall, this book is a grate story for all teens, particularly for year 9s and older. It’s such a feel good, loud out loud, happy tears kind of book. I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did and I’m so glad I took a chance and read it.