Every girl who’s been overweight will identify with 16-year-old Haley. She is a stereotype writ large: cute face, smart, funny, a friend to the boy she has a crush on. Oh, yes, and she is unhappy. Very unhappy. Then her mother hits on the idea of sending Haley off to Italy for the summer to stay with her college roommate and her family. Italy is all that Haley wanted and more—the more being a young Italian, Enzo, who loves Haley for the (albeit somewhat slimmer) person she is. If the first part of the book is based on familiarity, the last is pure romance. Hogan does both dialogue and description equally well, opening the way for readers to laugh at Haley’s wry observations and be enchanted by the Italian countryside and the town of Assisi, which becomes almost a character in the book. Haley and Enzo lose their virginity to each other in a scene that’s not so much sexy as it is fumblingly romantic. A hopeful book, this puts power back in the hands of a girl who hated the sunshine of her native Santa Monica but basks in the Italian glow. Grades 10-12. --Ilene Cooper
About the Author
Mary Hogan grew up near the beaches of Southern California (Bikinis! Aargh!), but currently lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Axel. She is the author of Perfect Girl, The Serious Kiss, Susanna Sees Stars, and Susanna Hits Hollywood.