That's what I am. A funny girl. A friend. Nobody's girlfriend. The girl with the pretty face.
Hayley wishes she could love living in Santa Monica, blocks from the beach, where every day—and everybody—is beautiful and sunny. But she just doesn't fit in with all the blond, superskinny Southern California girls who have their plastic surgeons on speed dial. Hayley is smart and witty and has such a pretty . . . face. Translation: Don't even think about putting on a bikini, much less dating superhot Drew Wyler. A bikini will never be flattering, and Drew will never think of her as more than a friend.
Just when Hayley feels doomed to live her life in the fat lane, her parents decide to send her to Italy for the summer—not for school, not for fat camp, just for fun. It's there, under the Italian sun, that Hayley's vision of herself starts to change. She's curvy, not fat. Pizza isn't evil. And life is so much more than one-size-fits-all. Who knows? Once Hayley sees herself in a new light, maybe the girl with the pretty face will finally find true amore.
Overweight Hayley is tired of Southern California, "where there are more gym memberships than library cards," of her mother's nagging about her diet and, especially, of being told she has a pretty face, a "veiled insult" if ever there was one. When her parents send her to spend the summer with friends in Italy, hoping to help her escape the pressure over body image, she is thrilled. Hayley does discover a healthier, happier way of life in Umbria; however, Hogan (Perfect Girl) casts a rose-colored lens on the experience (in addition to having her own beautiful cottage and easy-going chaperones, Hayley falls in love with a turquoise-eyed boy who says things like, "I can't look at you without knowing you will soon leave me"). Even so, Hayley commands a sharp wit and delivers smart insights. Like Hayley, readers will question an American culture that is both thin-obsessed and dependent on fast food and cars, but this novel is not so much issues-oriented as a conduit of vicarious pleasure. Ages 14-up.