It's somebody's birthday! Well, I guess it's more something than somebody. Not Pretty Enough by Jaimie Admans is releasing today! I'm not usually contemporary novels' greatest fan, but I'm working really hard to change that, and I think this novel is just what I need. It sounds so funny, and laughing while reading is one of my favorite things to do. Much unlike laughing while eating, which only ever ends badly for everyone involved.
Not Pretty Enough by Jaimie Admans
New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Lloyd Layton will know I exist. He once said three whole words to me, so this is obviously progress. If I don’t get a proper conversation out of him soon, then I’ll take my top off and streak through the cafeteria, because nobody could fail to notice these boobs.
2. I will not get expelled for streaking through the cafeteria.
Those are the words that begin her mission.
Chessie is fourteen, not pretty enough, and very much in love. Lloyd Layton is hot, popular, and unaware of Chessie’s existence. Her goal is clear: to get Lloyd to love her as much as she loves him, and she has exactly one year to do it.
As Chessie’s obsession with Lloyd reaches boiling point and she starts to spin a web of lies that spiral out of control, Lloyd turns out to be not quite the prince she thought he was. Can Chessie avoid the gathering storm before things go too far?
“Chessie!” Debs shouts at me just a second too late as I walk smack bang into the side of a bus.
Lloyd turns around at the sound of the clattering thunk I make.
Usually I like the sound of Lloyd’s laugh, but not today. Not when he’s laughing at me.
“You couldn’t have told me just a second earlier?” I ask Debs.
“Sorry,” she says. “I was talking to you and didn’t realise you weren’t listening until it was too late.”
Luckily the bus I’ve just walked into happens to be our bus, and I throw myself onto it with such force that I nearly come out the other side.
“You all right, love?” The driver asks. I ignore him and heave myself down into my seat with a huff.
I am all right. My boobs are so large they hit the bus before the rest of me did, otherwise I’d probably have a bruised face as well as the bruised ego. Once, just once, couldn’t these things happen to me when Lloyd isn’t watching? It’s not too much to ask, is it?
“Maybe if you spent more time watching where you were going and less time watching Lloyd, these things wouldn’t happen in front of him,” Debs says.
I hadn’t meant to say that out loud.
“But he’s just so… watchable.”
“I’m pretty sure he’s talkable to as well, you know, if you tried.”
The thing is, I have tried. Lloyd brings out the worst in me. He brings out the most nervous, clumsiest, downright embarrassing side of me that doesn’t even exist unless he’s in the immediate vicinity. Well, maybe it exists but it doesn’t show half as much if Lloyd’s not there.
“Why don’t you?” Debs is saying. “Just go and talk to him. You’re a great girl. He’d be lucky to have you.”
“Oh, please. Lloyd is popular, rich, and gorgeous. He doesn’t even have to get a bus to school, the lucky bugger. I’m the complete opposite.”
No one even knows where Lloyd Layton lives. He has a taxi bringing him to school every morning and picking him up outside the gate every afternoon. I get to ride on this rustbucket with Debs twice a day. He’s popular, always surrounded by a gang of equally popular mates, and always the first to be picked for sports teams. I’m unpopular, always surrounded by no one but Debs, and always the absolute last to be picked for sports teams.
“Come on, Chessie,” Debs says. “You’re not ugly and you’re not unpopular. No one dislikes you.”
“No one particularly likes me either.”
“I particularly like you. Ewan does too. We’re your friends.”
“I love you for trying to make me feel better but I’m average all round and you know it. The only person who has any feelings towards me whatsoever is Leigh, and she intensely dislikes me.”
“Leigh is just a bitch. She intensely dislikes everything.”
Leigh Marlow is our class bully. She walks around the school like she owns the place, flanked on either side by two other bullies who think the sun shines out of her backside. If she doesn’t get what she wants, someone gets hurt. What she wants this year is our friend Ewan, who isn’t interested in her in the slightest. She thinks this is somehow our fault, and Debs and I are her current targets. Me in particular.
This is why I made those resolutions. Not because of Leigh, but because I have to do something. I’m sick of being the girl who doesn’t stand out. I doubt most of the kids in my form could even tell you my name, and I’ve been in class with them for over two years. I get good enough marks but never good marks. I’ve never done anything memorable in my life. The most memorable thing about me is the size of my boobs and how frizzy my hair goes in the rain.
So I’m going to make Lloyd Layton fall in love with me. On most days it seems like the unlikeliest thing that could ever happen, because apart from those three little words last month, he barely even glances in my direction. I want to prove to myself that I can do things if I put my mind to it. I’m not pretty, I’m not smart, but I think Lloyd and I have lots of deeper, more important things in common, and I want to prove to people like Leigh that looks don’t matter, and not being as pretty as her isn’t the end of the world.