Thanks to Hachette Children’s Group and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
I really like Juno Dawson’s writing and she’s really popular with some of my students so I was keen to see if this was another book I could recommend to them.
The story follows Jana, a young girl who is scouted by a modelling agency and quickly sees her star rise in the fashion world. Jana comes from a working class estate in London and is the child of Serbian immigrants.
The title probably gives it away but you’d be mistaken if you read this book thinking you were getting a fluffy account of the glamorous life of a teen model. This is more of a warts and all exploration of the ugly side of a beautiful world. There are the realities of castings, fat shaming, eating disorders, bitchiness and horrible model flats but also genuine friendships, support and let’s be honest, big, fat paycheques.
I feel like this book would really strike a chord with young people. It feels current and fresh and the dialogue is bang on to how teens speak to one another. It’s snappily paced for the most part, but perhaps started to run out of steam a little towards the end. The author has clearly done her research and has lived and breathed in this world which gives the story an air of legitimacy.
The cast of characters is diverse and dynamic and is an accurate reflection of modern London demographics. The social issues experienced by the characters also mirror the kinds of real life experiences of teenagers in the current day.
The focus of the story changes about two thirds of the way through the novel from the realities of life as a teen model into more of a focus on the #MeToo movement and the power exerted by men in the modelling industry over young, vulnerable women. There’s a Terry Richardson/Harvey Weinstein type who was clearly inspired by his real life contemporaries, sometimes maybe a bit too inspired.
The novel sometimes suffered from a lack of subtlety and perhaps struggled a tad from the amount of issues it tried to explore and I’m not sure it necessarily did full justice to them. I also thought it was weird that her friends got huffy and essentially ditched her after a month? Her friends who encouraged her to undertake the career in the first place? These were just minor niggles however, overall it’s a solid book.
Also..I just gotta say…..#TeamWestley.