Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Review: Flawless by Lara Chapman
Released: May 3rd, 2011
Grade rating: B+
Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She has killer blue eyes, gorgeous blonde hair and impeccable school grades. She has just one tiny flaw - her nose! But even that's not so bad as Sarah has the bestest friend and big goals for print journalism fame. On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into Sarah's journalism class and rocks her world. The problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too, and when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her attract Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do - she agrees. What was she thinking?
I started Flawless knowing next to nothing about it, except what was written on the hot-pink back cover. What I ended up with was a funny, sharp story of love, friendship and the acceptance of flaws. Everybody has them, and in most cases there's nothing that can be done to change them. In Sarah's case, she has a big nose. A HUGE snozzle, like a beak in fact (her words not mine). She's lived with it most of her life, enduring taunts and stares with the help of her best friend Kristen. She's happy as she is, and deflects any and all nose-job hints from her mother. That is, until gorgeous guy Rock arrives in town and skips straight over Sarah in favour of Kristen.
What follows is a test of character. Sarah helps Kristen win Rock over, even at the expense of her own happiness. She considers changing her appearance to please her peers (and one boy in particular), but she soon realises that beauty is only skin deep and that, yes, every single person is flawed in one way or another. True friendship and love will look past physical flaws, which is one of the many messages debut author Lara Chapman brings to the table. She really got me thinking about how differences and quirkiness can change someone's perception of another person, not to mention how hurtful bullying can be. Whether it be a simple hand gesture or snide barb as someone walks past, all bullying is heard and noticed by its victim. Some people can survive it, as Sarah does, but we all know that some people can't.
Flawless features the kind of friendship I love: long-standing, devoted and loyal. Sarah and Kristen could easily be sisters, even deeper than that, and I couldn't get enough of it. If Kristen needed help, Sarah was there. If Sarah was taunted, Kristen stood up to her classmates and told them to back off. Whatever the other needed, they got it. Everyone needs a friendship like this in their life, whether it feels necessary or not. There are some things only a best friend can understand, and Chapman portrays that here perfectly.
Although much of Flawless is based around romance and new boy Rock, it isn't the most important part of the novel. All kinds of relationships, including that of a mother and a daughter, are given equal page time, and one never seems more important than the other. I actually could have done with less observations about how hot Rock is and how he's the most amazing spectacle ever to walk on school grounds, as I think his personality is his best attribute, again showing that a pretty face doesn't always mean a pretty person.
Flawless surprised me, and wasn't at all the fluffy Mean Girls-esque high school commentary I thought it would be. It's witty and relevant, making it a great read for secondary school students experiencing these things for themselves. I'm really looking forward to seeing what Lara Chapman writes next - whatever it is, I hope it's as charming as Flawless!