Kerry Winfrey's funny and honest YA novel, Things Jolie Needs to Do Before She Bites It
Jolie’s a lot of things, but she knows that pretty isn’t one of them.
She has mandibular prognathism, which is the medical term for underbite. Chewing is a pain, headaches are a common occurrence, and she’s never been kissed. She’s months out from having a procedure to correct her underbite, and she cannot wait to be fixed.
Jolie becomes paralyzed with the fear that she could die under the knife. She and her best friends, Evelyn and Derek, decide to make a “Things Jolie Needs to Do Before She Bites It (Which Is Super Unlikely, but Still, It Could Happen)” list. Things like: eat every appetizer on the Applebee’s menu and kiss her crush Noah Reed.
But since when did everything ever go exactly to plan?
Filled with humor, heart--and an honest look at today’s beauty standards--Jolie’s journey is a true feel-good story.
A book about a girl's facial deformity could easily become maudlin, but Winfrey (Love and Other Alien Experiences) employs sharp wit to offer ample levity as she traces 16-year-old Jolie's trials in the weeks before her corrective surgery. Jolie dreams of having a "normal silhouette" post-procedure, with her "teeth lined up exactly where they're supposed to be." She is also fixated on the slight chance that she could die on the table and decides to create a bucket list of things to do before her operation. Her top priority is to kiss a boy, specifically handsome Noah Reed. Knowing that he will likely get the lead of the school's spring musical (a play involving a pig farmer's colonization of the moon), she auditions for a role among the chorus of pigs, despite her dread of being seen on stage. Jolie gets more than she bargains for when she wins the female lead opposite Noah but her interest in him quickly dwindles as she realizes her heart really belongs to her best friend, Derek. Numerous laugh-aloud moments don't lessen the potency of the story's messages about beauty's subjectivity and overcoming fears. Readers will gleefully cheer Jolie on as she learns to appreciate herself for who she is. Ages 13 18.