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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Posing as Ashley by Kimberly Joy Peters

Posing as Ashley by Kimberly Joy Peters
Publisher: Lobster Press
Genre: Contemporary
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (190 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 suns
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

This spin-off of the YALSA Quick Pick, Painting Caitlyn, tells the story of Caitlyn's best friend Ashley, as she tries to break into the modeling industry.

Sixteen-year-old Ashley has always been an overachiever, eager to please everyone (especially her mother, who is battling cancer). Her grades are high, her boyfriend is gorgeous, and she is beautiful. Ashley also has a big heart, particularly when it comes to animals, and she serves that passion by volunteering at the local animal shelter. When her father's new girlfriend offers her the opportunity to give professional modeling a try, she jumps at the chance. One more responsibility to balance in an already demanding life, but it's something she's always dreamed of doing.

Just as she enters the competitive and hypercritical world of fashion, parental pressures mount (her mother supports her modeling, her father does not) and her long term relationship with Brandon crumbles. Ashley makes the difficult decision to persevere with this new career, telling herself, “... if I couldn't make Brandon love me, I was going to make the world love the idea of me.” As she tries to navigate the catty world of modeling wannabes, she is selected for an ad campaign that glamorizes fur – something she is utterly opposed to. Forced to choose between two passions, Ashley discovers that getting what you want isn’t nearly as important as finding out who you really are.

Imagine you have everything you could ever want, but somehow, you aren’t happy with it. You want more. What do you do? If you’re Ashley, you try to be what everyone else wants.

Posing as Ashley is a beautiful and sad book. Beautiful because it shows how one girl can rise above to become what she is destined to be. Sad because many teen girls can relate and understand her strife. Poignant because the transformation from Ashley the perfect to Ashley comfortable with herself is so well written.

When I picked up this story, I expected a breezy teen novel. I was wrong, but it’s a good thing. Ashley, like many girls, wants to be the epitome of what everyone else wants her to be. I felt her pain and frustration, thinking she can’t measure up to standards that she’s set. I liked the mirror to real life. Who hasn’t had issues in high school where they feel like they just don’t fit in?

The message that having everything isn’t what it’s cracked up to be is strong. She’s got a lot going for her, yet when she gets the chance for more, like many people, she comes to the realization that maybe what she had wasn’t so bad. That resonated with me. I also liked that she volunteered at the animal shelter. The little plot twist was sweet.

If you want a story about a girl who has to figure out who she is before she loses herself in the mix, then you need to read Posing as Ashley. I give this story 4.5 suns.

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