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Enough Is Enough

A review of Never Enough by Denise Jaden -- there's a boy who's the an MLD of the Cameron Quick variety!

Enough Is Enough

BOOK REPORT for Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Cover Story: Good Enough
BFF Charm: Yes
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factors: Mysterious Loner Dude, Photography
Trigger Warnings: Eating Disorders, Shitty Sexual Situation 
Relationship Status: Good Friend Potential

Cover Story: Good Enough

As far as face covers go, this one's great. I like the typeface combo and the balance of the different elements. The overexposed background image and the maybe-wistful, maybe-angry girl are artistic rather than emo (there's a distinct lack of black eyeliner). It's totally not embarrassing.

The Deal:

Loann's older sister Claire is perfect -- pretty, skinny, popular, and dating the boy Loann's been in love with since sixth grade. Loann's just average -- average looks, average student, and not even a prospective boyfriend. Claire's being weird, not just because she's started publicly acknowledging Loann, and when she and Josh break up and he starts flirting with Loann, it looks like her dreams might come true. But what about Claire's increasingly obvious battle with eating disorders, and what about her new friend Marcus, the funny, cute, mysterious loner dude in her drama class?

BFF Charm: Yes

As a Grown Up-Type Person, I was able to see a lot more of what was going on that Loann did, and it sometimes drove me crazy, but I'd just remind myself that she's a Teenager-Type Person, and vow to support her as she figured things out. The greatest thing about Loann is she CARES about people, and wants to make things right for them. Of course, this clashes with natural human selfishness, and of course this self-absorption leads Loann to many misunderstandings, but she's loyal. She's also funny and smart and a loudmouth, and I am proud of her for standing up for herself against her ex-best friend and the arbiters of high school popularity and doing what she wants, rather than fading into the background or trying to be someone she's not.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Josh is Loann's big, popular boy crush. He's a jock, and the coolest guy at school, and also her sister's boyfriend. So when he flirts with her, I have a hard time swooning because that's something only a douchebag would do. Marcus, on the other hand, is ADORBS. He's of the Cameron Quick school of MLD, rather than the Jordan Catalano school -- that is, he's a loner because he's unpopular, and he's mysterious because he has dark secrets, not because he's a drug addict. Marcus and Loann's friendship is very sweet and realistic, and the moments of tension between them as they each try to decide what to do with their attraction, friendship, and the secrets that keep them apart are extra swoony (and not a little bit heartbreaking). I'd give this a higher rating, except for a totally shitty sexual experience -- one of those that probably wouldn't stand up as rape in court, but left Loann very confused and angry and hurt and guilty and made me want to hug her HARD and tell her, "IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! YOU ARE NOT A BAD PERSON!" over and over again.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Loann's voice is very honest. Denise Jaden does a good job expressing the anger and pain felt by those who love a self-destructive person, and this is one of the few books about eating disorders I've read that doesn't stray into glorification territory -- maybe because it's told from the POV of the sufferer's sister. The first-person narrative is good for exploring all of Loann's thoughts -- about her sister, about her ex-friends, about Marcus, about her parents' shortcomings -- but I feel the first-person POV limits the story as well. It wasn't until two days after finishing the book that I decided Loann's parents DIDN'T totally suck -- they were doing the best they could for the daughters they thought they had, and were too busy to even realize they didn't know who was living in their house at all. All of Loann's "Parents just don't understand!" was true to a teenager, but I feel like the book would have more depth if Jaden could have explored others' motivations just a little bit.

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

Like I said earlier, Marcus is a classic Cameron Quick MLD. He doesn't take Cameron's place, but he has his moments. He's also braver in his relationship with Loann than Cameron is with Jenna, I'd love to find out what happens to him after high school.

Bonus Factor: Photography

Loann gets a film camera from Claire and Josh for her birthday, and watching her get confidence from learning how to use it was fun and took me back to my own attempts at photography with an old (and fatally flawed) Pentax of my dad's I found in the attic in high school (back when all photography was still done on film). It made me feel a tiiiiiny bit old, but oh well. I had to show my teenaged neighbors how my turntable worked the other day, too.

Casting Call:

Kay Panabaker as Loann

I actually kept picturing this one actor as Marcus -- tall, skinny, nerdy, unkempt dark hair -- but I cannot remember his name for the life of me. I'll update this if I ever think of it!

Relationship Status: Good Friend Potential

This book was like going on a blind date and having a lot of fun, but realizing there's no chemistry. I hope it felt the same way I did, because I'd love to keep hanging out as friends.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Simon and Schuster.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Never Enough will be available July 10.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.