Sunday, August 4, 2013

The look by Sophia Bennett

Ted is used to being the odd one out, the tall girl with the outrageous (and uncontrollable) hair, literally head and shoulders above the rest.  Her sister Ava has it all, the looks, the brains, the ability to make friends easily - and at the age of seventeen she also has cancer.  Her family didn't realise she was sick at first, and the diagnosis of cancer is a shock to the whole family - especially when the specialist says they have a 90% success rate.  Refusing to worry about the 10%, the family rallies around Ava to help her through the treatments.  Ava and Ted are close, sharing a room and spending time together, and when Ava wants her to follow up with a modelling scout Ted can't resist - even though she knows it will come to nothing.

It doesn't though, instead Ted finds herself swirled up into the breath taking world of modelling and high fashion.  Chosen by a modelling agency known for their unique models, it seems as though it is all going to be over before it even begins - but then Ted makes a breakthrough and all the world is laid out at her feet.  It seems impossible that one sister can be rising so high while the other is faltering and failing with a disease that could end her life before it even begins - and with the pressure growing all round Ted will have to make decisions that she may not be ready for, decisions she may regret for the rest of her life.

The look is a fascinating read, blending together a Cinderella-esque story with a moving story about the relationship between two sisters where one of them has a potentially fatal illness.  Ted is an interesting character because she is very human, full of doubt and genuine concern for her sister - she may seem na├»ve at times, but she has incredible depth and has a very steep personal growth curve.  Her sister Ava is the kind of sister you would usually dislike in a novel like this, the perfect older sister who does well at school and has a gorgeous boyfriend, but she is portrayed as a character with real depth and emotion and it is hard to dislike a character who so obviously loves her little sister long before she is famous. 

To say too much about this book is to ruin the surprises along the way and the portrayal of the relationships between Ava and Ted, and the relationship with their parents.  I was expecting a somewhat vapid and fluffy novel with the title and cover image, but what I found instead was a deeply emotional book with all the elements of a true coming of age story.  Ted is lovely with all her flaws and personal doubts, and Ava is just as amazing as she bravely works through the issues around her illness.  Too often novels peter out towards the end, starting strongly and then failing to deliver the punch line, but I loved The look from beginning to end and look forward to reading more from this author in the future as she has an easy to read style, and she is not afraid to have some substance to her novel.

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Reviewed by Brilla

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