I’ve been in this school for two and a half years now. I’ve had this teacher – Mr Edmond – for a year and a half of them, and he has not yet realised that I am not interested in geography. In fact, the only thing even mildly interesting in this classroom is the fact that Lloyd Layton is in it.
I don’t know if it’s because my seat is directly opposite the teacher’s desk, or if it’s because he just doesn’t like me, but he loves to do quick fire questions, usually before you’ve even settled at your desk and got your books out. I’m always the first one he picks, and it’s always some rubbish about the Earth’s core or volcanoes that erupted fifty years ago. I never get it right, and I think Mr Edmond thinks I’m teasing him by pretending to be stupid when the truth is that I can just about find my way home from the bus stop.
“Miss Clemenfield,” Mr Edmond begins just as we are settling down in our chairs. “The population of Japan is?”
“Wrong. The population of Japan is not um. It is in fact…” He stops and stares at me for a moment. “Francesca, are you okay?”
I look up. “Yes, thank you. Yourself?”
“No, your face. It’s all red.”
“I had to run down from my last class. Mr Griffiths kept us behind.” I nod emphatically. Okay, so I’m seriously unfit. Why don’t you point it out to the whole class and have Lloyd Layton turning to look at my red, sweaty self, panting due to a short run from the maths block?
“If you’d like to go and get a glass of water from the fountain, you’re welcome to go now before the lesson begins.”
“I’m good, thanks.”
He walks away and starts the quick fire questions down the other end of the room.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Ceri, who sits on one side of me, asks.
“You know, you do look a bit red and blotchy, Chess,” Ewan says from the seat on my other side.
“All right, I’m unfit,” I snap. “Why don’t you just announce that I’m a fat cow during school assembly and be done with it?”
“Sorry.” He holds his hands up and starts intently reading his textbook.
Leigh leans across from where she sits a few chairs down. “Don’t worry, Chessie,” she says with a sickly sweet smile that’s as fake as plastic flowers. “I suffer from PMT too. Do you want me to ask for a tampon for you?”
“At least mine’s not permanent,” I snap at her.
After ten minutes or so goes by, the teacher is about to fire another dumb question when he stops in his tracks and stares at me.
“You know, Francesca, I really think you ought to go and see the nurse.”
God, won’t anyone just leave me alone today?
“It’s Chessie, please.” I grab my bag from the floor and dig around in it until I find my compact mirror. “Is there something wrong with the lighting in this class or something today, Mr Edmond? Because I’m absolutely fi—”
Oh God. My face is all red and blotchy. It’s like I’ve come out in some sort of a rash. Crikey, no wonder the teacher was worried about me.
“Sorry,” I say quickly.
“Ewan, Ceri,” Mr Edmond addresses them. “Could you two move your chairs away a little bit, just in case it’s contagious. If everybody could just shift down a little.”
Contagious. Contagious? He thinks I’m contagious? And he’s just announced it to the rest of the class, and suddenly thirty pairs of eyes are peering at me and talking amongst themselves.
Couldn’t he just have said something to me quietly, without making the entire class think I have the bubonic plague? That’s just great, isn’t it? Now Lloyd will never look twice at me because I’m like a walking wart. A giant walking wart that is contagious.
Although, perhaps a more pressing matter is what on earth is wrong with me. Why is my face all rash-like? I look like I’ve been sleeping in a nest of stinging nettles.
“I think you should go to the nurse, Chessie.” Mr Edmond puts unnecessary emphasis on my name.
“Yes, thank you.”
I grab my bag and rush out the door, grateful to be able to walk away from the staring eyes.
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I always love losing myself in a young adult story. Whilst I'd be horrified at the thought of ever having to go through that mortifying and confidence shattering time in my life, reading of the woes of a teenager at that age is one of my guilty pleasures and I adored 'Not Pretty Enough' for its realistic yet hilarious storyline.
As I started reading 'Not Pretty Enough' it wasn't long before I was sighing with relief and thinking 'Finally! A young adult book that is actually relatable to young adults!' The daily trials that young Chessie's faces in her quest to get the attention (and affection) of popular and dishy Lloyd, were a wonderful mix of humour and that second hand sympathy and embarassment you feel for Chessie that I think many readers will remember feeling all too often when they watched their own friends attempts at guy-catching in their teen years. This is something that always love in Jaimie Admans books. Because we join the characters through their journey, and see first hand the flaws they have we then suffer along with them when consequences of their actions hit. I love how there is no false description is made of heroine Chessie and how well her thoughts and actions were so true to that of a teenage girl.
When I was a teenager I remember finding it hard to relate to some of the characters in young adult fiction as the thought processes and actions of the characters were so mature and grown up. Chessie was a wonderful example of a real, teenage girl, flaws and all. Not every teenage crush gets a happy, fairytale ending, and this book was perfect in how it portrayed this chapter of Chessie's life.
'Not Pretty Enough' also raised some important issues that I think are hugley important for teenagers to remember in today's society. The seriousness of issues like child abuse and how unfounded accusations can be dangerous not only to the child but also to a parent, was very well portrayed, and I admire the way that Jaimie Admans was able to put this issue across without detracting from the main storyline.
A brilliant book that had me laughing out loud and reminiscing of my own school years. A realistic portrayal of a teenagers daily troubles that will be a perfect read for young adults!
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