Short synopsis: 17 almost 18-year old Josie is smart but socially awkward. She aspires to become a journalist but instead, rather hesitantly, joins an internship programme at the fashion magazine, Sash. Follow her on a journey as she navigates a trying time with family, friends, school and romance.
I wanted to add my own synopsis here because I felt the blurb on the back of the book misleads readers into thinking the book will be everything about the fashion magazine world.
While this book definitely has some elements of the fashion world in it, it is not central to the story. As Josie is more of a writer, we tend to see more of the editorial side of things. On a whole though, the book mainly focused on Josie herself. We see her struggle to juggle family, friends, staying on top of school and at the same time trying to be outstanding during the internship. It does makes the book much more relatable as her struggle is universal, especially for teens, and can be something resonating.
The book is a fast one, I sped through it in a day and a half. It offers a predictable story that is neatly tied at the end which may be a source of joy for some. It’s the kind of light read where you get to escape from your world for a while. You get to root for the underdog and watch her triumph. In the end, you emerge refreshed and ready to take on your own real-life challenges.
This is not to say that that is the book’s only purpose. There are several issues that were brought up in this book that are very real and very important. That said, the book tries to do too many things with itself and spreads itself too thin. I’m afraid I can’t go into detail what I mean as there are spoilers involved. If you have read the book, or don’t mind spoilers, feel free to check out what I thought in my discussion below.
On the topic of characters, as I have mentioned before, Josie is the main star of the show. As such, we get to see much more of her character than anyone else. This is great but it is regretful that one character in particular stood out to me as rather flat and too perfect. But this shall be forgiven as most of the other characters are decently fleshed out.
Overall, the story did a good job of entertaining me for the duration of the journey. The only let downs were that the fashion world aspect was not explored more and the important issues that could have been included to greater effect.
SPOILER DISCUSSION ALERT – PROCEED WITH CAUTION
In my review above, I mentioned “rather flat characters”. It may come as no surprise that that character is Josie’s love interest James. Her cousin’s cute roommate that is incredibly sweet, funny and [creepily] understanding of Josie. This bothers me because their romance follows every single romance trope in the book. Embarrassing first encounter, followed by falling head over heels in love, finding out he has someone else, unable to get him out of her mind, he breaks up with his girlfriend, misunderstandings between the destined lovebirds, they end up together and BAM sparks fly, happily-ever-after. It’s a little sad that the romance wasn’t more developed but again with the book trying to cover so many things, I decided to just let it slide.
Speaking of trying to do too many things, can we please talk about that essay Josie wrote at the end of the book? The one about female body image and eating disorders. I see how it might have been building up in the with Ava’s situation and also a little of Josie being a little fashion concious when she first goes to Sash. However, I don’t think that was really enough to warrant the “YES I am going to write this moving personal essay about body image and eating disorders”. It became even more ridiculous when the essay went National and other characters said it was so deeply personal and moving.
I had no idea where it came from so it was a little anti-climatic when it happened. I felt that Josie was pretty grounded in herself. She knew she was smart, and she didn’t seem all that bothered by her self-image. Thinking back, I guess the comments that I thought were just passing remarks such as “thin models nibbling on carrots” were supposed to be the build up. Had her struggle been more personal and central to the story, the essay she goes on to write would have had so much more meaning. It was a great idea but a flawed execution.
It would have been nice as well if the author included some websites or books relating to eating disorders after the story ends. I’m surprised as it would have made the book more complete and maybe help spread an important message. I suppose as the body image issue wasn’t really central to the story, it doesn’t warrant the need for some extra information. But if that is the case then it really shouldn’t have been included as a plot point in the first place. Okay, I’ve ranted enough. Feel free to share your thoughts, agree or disagree in the comments below!