Monday, June 11, 2012

Never Enough by Denise Jaden (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Publication.Date  July 10th 2012
Published By:  Simon Pulse | 
WebsiteDenise Jaden 

Never Enough - Goodreads
My review copy:Finished copy received from Simon&Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review
Where to get:

From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late? (Goodreads)

They say you shouldn't try to be someone you're not. But what about someone you almost are? Or how about someone you used to be?
Our perfect posture could be the one reminder that Claire's not the secret love child of Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashton Kutcher. And I'm not the true offspring of Danny DeVito and an ungroomed poodle.
It's not like I needed to be a natural performer or good with boys, like Shayleen. Or multi-talented and popular like my sister. All I've ever wanted was to be kind of good at one thing.  Worth a second look. Maybe a compliment. 
Was I just a knickknack on the shelf of the rest of humanity?

     Never Enough sneaked up on me and took me by surprise. Neither the blurb, nor the beautiful bright cover have prepared me for the intensely emotional ride I was taken on. Dealing with issues like eating disorders, physical abuse, and the fragility and meaning of life, it's a character-driven, powerful novel that is sure to resonate with its readers. Jaden's evocative and fluid prose is full of vivid emotions and gut-churning authenticity. Poignant, overwhelming and pleasantly readable, Never Enough is a book to savour and cherish, a book to remember

     What does it mean to be happy? What does it take to be satisfied with yourself? Do you need to be super skinny with flawless figure, model-like hair and magnetic personality? At what point in your life do you stop and tell yourself: this is it, this is where I want to be, what I want to do. Do you ever get there? Are we ever good enough in our own eyes? Or are we always searching, always trying, chasing shadows, pushing to improve ourselves? These - among others - are the questions that I've been pondering ever since I turned the last page of Never Enough. This book really got to me. It affected me in ways I never thought possible. The main character, Loann, is a typical ugly duckling. She always looked up to her sister (Claire), wishing she was as pretty and popular as her. Claire was always the one getting all the attention - from their parents, teachers and friends. She was the beautiful and talented ballet-dancer, loved and admired by everyone, with the most fabulous boyfriend and a group of faithful friends. Loann was the awkward one, barely noticed and quickly dismissed, with no special features nor talents. Plain and colourless like a shadow, she would give anything to switch places with her sister and for once feel special, noticed, and needed. Claire's life is not as perfect and sweet as it seems, though, and the things Loann is about to discover will change the lives of the whole family forever. 

     Never Enough was captivating from start to finish and I found it very difficult to put down. The narrative voice is genuine and lively, and it makes Loann a relatable character. She's full of flaws and yet perfect in many ways. Overshadowed by her stunning sister, insecure, and self-conscious, Loann is struggling with self-acceptance and self-value. She's shy and quiet, and she blends into the background like a chameleon. She focuses on her defects and shortcomings so much that she fails to recognize the flaws in people around her, especially in her sister. Envy plays a big role in Claire and Loann's love-hate relationship, but it's not the only element you'll find there. There's also love, trust and devotion, and I loved how Jaden managed to capture the strong sisterly bond between the two girls. 

     While the love story was there (in all its sweetness and tenderness), the plot was not built around it. The slowly developing romantic feelings between Loann and Marcus took the back seat to other, more profound and meaningful plot threats. And it was perfect this way. I loved the chemistry between Loann and Marcus, they made a charming couple. They didn't fall in love with each other instantaneously, their relationship was just like their personalities: shy, awkward, angsty and - therefore - real. I loved how they joked around and mocked each other, their conversations were often quite funny and I thought they completed one another in every way. Marcus was a fantastic character. It took me a while to figure him out, but once I did I couldn't have loved him more. Claire was an interesting character, too, and her story invoked so many emotions in me. I feel that I learned a lot from reading about Claire's experiences, and I now have a better understanding of eating disorders and how to help/support people affected by them.

     Never Enough is a heartbreaking read that ends on a bitter-sweet note. Filled with burning regrets and what-ifs, it's a thought-provoking exploration of many difficult and relevant issues, from learning how to love yourself to dealing with mental sickness and the loss of a family member. This book tells a harrowing tale of never-enoughs: people not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not interesting enough, not strong enough, or simply not good enough. And while it's mostly a sad and melancholic book, it's also one that ends with hope and promise rather than despair, and for that I absolutely and utterly loved it.

This review is posted as part of the Contemporary Fiction Month feature!

Click on the picture for full schedule.

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Rebecca said...

I've heard of this book before and although I wasn't interested in reading it then I might be now after reading about how much you enjoyed it and that it was an addictive read (love those)! Serioulsy, Evie your reviews are so lovely and convining and most importantly, honest. <3

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

I love books like this that pose questions, such as the ones mentioned in this review, while entertaining.

Kris (Imaginary Reads) said...

I love novls that pose questions to us. The bittersweet contemporary novels are the best. This sounds like something I'd be itnerested in reading. Thanks for the review!

Victoria Scott said...

Sounds amazing! I really like (in contemporary) when there's a love interest, but it's not the sole focus of the book. Sounds like one I'll have to pick up!

Randi said...

I think what interests me most about this book is that the main character is the sister of the girl with the eating disorder rather than the girl herself. I'm sure there are plenty of issue books where the story is told from the POV of the bystander, but this sounds really intriguing. Another one to add to my to-read shelf. :) Thanks for sharing, Evie!

roro said...

romance on the backburnr im so there

gr8 review evie

Lexie said...

You should stop writing such fantastic reviews. It's not going to be good for my purse.

Natalia Belikov @ Dazzling Reads said...

Im a IM IN!!
Holy cow, I didnt know this book was SO sad! but I dont really care, my dear your review is beautiful! like always, is very thoughtful and, it may sounds cliche) but is beautifully written. You have a talent my dear to express your feeling for the books you read. I think nobody makes it more wonderful than you!
Have you ever thought about writing a book yourself? You really should! you have the way and the words my dear ^.^

Happy reading my friend :)


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Wow Evie! I love books that keep you asking questions and really make you think about things. This sounds like an amazing read that is very emotional. I absolutely adore your reviews! Thank you!

Amy said...

I never really thought to much about reading this book. I might have added it to my TBR list, but didn't give it another thought. After reading your review I think I will be checking it out when I can.

Muhammad Irfan said...

i wanna read this one :)
the sisters competition is heart-beating . i think :)

Jaime Lester said...

This sounds creepy and..... creepy. I am not sure that I would have picked this up without your review though. I don't know why, really. But your review makes it sound like something I might want to give a chance. Thanks so much for the great review!

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