Am I Ugly? Book Review

Am I Ugly? by Michelle Elman Audiobook

5 out of 5 stars

“As a female, anger was never an appropriate emotion, and I was taught to feel guilt around that anger. Guilt was digestible, more feminine, easier to control and manage, after all.” 

I have followed Michelle Elman for a while on Instagram and she was one of the first people who taught me about body positivity. It wouldn’t be fair to not give you a little bit about how this movement changed my life and my perspective on my body. As far as I can remember I’ve had red bumps all along my body and have gone through so many products trying to scrub them off myself because they “looked ugly” until a dermatologist finally said it’s keratosis pilaris and nothing you do is going to help. It was around that time I came across the body positivity community on instagram and started my journey to loving my body and embracing all aspects of it.

I had read other body positivity books before and they were helpful so when I saw that Michelle Elman had written a book I knew I had to read it. She was the first body positivity account with someone who had scars that I knew about. I had already learned to love my body’s size but couldn’t get over loving the skin condition that I had been told my whole life to figure out how to get rid of. Through following her I found others in the body positivity community who taught me to love my body, skin condition and all so I knew I had to read her book.

I had been keeping an eye on my public library’s book selection for a while hoping they would one day have access to her book. I would’ve bought it but I didn’t have the funds to purchase it so I cried when I saw that Hoopla had finally received it. I had wanted to read this book since I knew that it came out.

Michelle Elman tells you the story of her life through many hospital visits and her journey towards loving her body. Having known about her before kind of changes the way I read her book in a positive manner. Since I had been following her I loved learning intricate aspects of her life and learning more about what she shares on instagram. I found it fascinating, and her journey was relatable while still being her own.

I love how she discusses the ways that media and others had an impact on how she viewed her body. Rather than skirting around some of the difficult issues such as eating disorders, mental illness, and medical problems she addresses them head on. She tells you her feelings that surround these issues and how they impact her life and her relationships with others. I love how she talks about her experiences in boarding school and how others treated her for her surgeries and her weight.

I love the advice that she gives in her epilogue because I think we sometimes forget that our body positivity journey is our own and no one else. I love that she reminds us of that and reminds us not to compare our bodies with others and not to compare our progress to anyone else.

I decided to listen to this on audiobook since it was the only way I could gain access to it but I was a bit wary about it. You see, I hardly ever listen to audiobooks because I find it hard to keep track of the story line but the narrator of this book is great to listen to. The narrator fits the story quite well and doesn’t take away from the book or the story being told. This was something I was able to listen to on my commute to places and as I was doing other things at home.

I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their body image and others who want to learn about body positivity.

About the Book: In today’s world of supplements, celebrity diets and social media, it’s very easy to be hard on ourselves about the way we look. With all this pressure to strive for ‘perfection’ aesthetically, it is easy to forget how damaging this can be psychologically. Michelle Elman is a leading part of the body positivity movement that has been gathering momentum to liberate people from these unrealistic standards, recognize that all bodies are equally valuable and broaden the billboard definitions of beauty.

Am I Ugly? is this inspiring woman’s compelling and deeply personal memoir that describes her childhood experiences of life-threatening health problems, long stays in hospital and fifteen complex surgeries that left her scarred, both mentally and physically. The narrative follows Michelle’s journey from illness to health, and from childhood to adulthood as she deals with her body-confidence issues to embrace both her scars and her body – and help others to do the same. This remarkable book grapples with the wider implications of Michelle’s experiences and the complex interplay between beauty and illness.

About the Author: Michelle Elman is a body-positive activist and 5-board accredited body-confidence coach. She has amassed 170k followers on Instagram across two accounts (@scarrednotscared and @bodypositivememes). She is a guest contributor to popular Youtuber Hannah Witton’s successful Young Adult book DOING IT; contributed to the recent bestseller BODY POSITIVE POWER; has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio London, Channel 5 News, LBC and also runs the Body Positive Book Club. Her TedX talk “Have You Hated Your Body Enough Today?” has been viewed over 30k times and Women’s Health recently named her as one of the five women changing the game when it comes to body image in the UK.

About the book and about the author borrowed from Goodreads.

If you would like to read this book you can find it at
https://www.amazon.com/Am-Ugly-Michelle-Elman-author/dp/1788541847/ref=asc_df_1788541847/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312674999652&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3376528962063734623&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9030930&hvtargid=pla-680770979032&psc=1 or look for it at your local library.

The Stone Rainbow Book Review

The Stone Rainbow Advanced Reader Copy

3 out of 5 stars

Thank You to Liane Shaw and Second Story Press for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book on Netgalley.

I was drawn to this book due to the colorful cover page because it shouted LGBTQ+ to me so I knew I wanted to read it. After getting a chance to read the short description about this book I knew I wanted a chance to read it. I always attempt to read all YA books that have LGBTQ+ themes so I was happy to get a chance to read this book.

The Stone Rainbow is about Jack who is a teenager living in a small town who is in the middle of coming out to those closest to him. Jack becomes the center of attention for everyone in the small town of Thomas Mills after he wanders too far into the river while not knowing how to swim. Early on in the book Jack encounters a new students,Benjamin,who just happens to be gay and develops an instant crush on him. Through the rest of the story Jack relieves moments of his life that are part of his coming out story and continues discovering who he is and who he wants to be in the eyes of others.

I was a bit hesitant to continue reading this because it was a little too cliche and coincidental for me from the start. I found it a little too much that the new guy was gay, liked Jack, and the friendship just kind of happened instantly. Because of the way that the story is told and Jack’s personality, the parts that were perfect sounded like things that would be happening only in his head but not in reality so that kind of threw me off. I kept reading though because I was invested in the characters and was hoping that Jack, Ryan, Cody, and Benjamin would develop throughout the story.

I was quite pleased with the character development that Jack goes through but I do think it happens suddenly and without cause. Like he meets Benjamin and is suddenly proud of who he is and stands up for himself which was a little off to me.

There are scenes that I want to see rather than hear about from Jack. I think that seeing Jack come out to his mom and seeing the river scene would have a greater impact on the reader rather than hearing Jack’s retelling of these events. Sometimes I would be reading and excited that we finally get emotion but then it quickly passes and I’m not sure if that’s the style or is it on purpose because of who Jack is? Is quickly passing through emotions because Jack isn’t ready to get into them or is it just coincidence that it matches his personality?

Suddenly when you think everything is going perfectly and you are pleased with the direction that Jack and Benjamin’s relationship is taking there is a twist in the story. I think that this twist is what keeps you glued to the book because now you need to know what happens to the characters. Now you are too invested in these characters to just put the book down. It is during this traumatic event that you get to witness past events in Jack’s life not just through his reenacting but as if you are there in those scenes.

I like the relationships that Jack builds with those around him and how those relationships change as he becomes secure about his identity. I feel that those relationships really mimic what being a LGBTQ+ kid can feel like especially when you are unsure about a lot of things.

I am so glad that I kept reading this book because the feelings do get deeper and you see a lot of who the other characters are. It takes a while for Jack to open up to others so please hang in there because when he does there’s some beautiful moments. I winded up liking Cody a lot more than I expected to since the beginning and it’s great to see how someone can change when surrounded by open minded people.

I recommend this to young adults who may be struggling with their LGBTQ+ identity as well as people who are trying to understand LGBTQ+ youth.

This book will be published  September 17th 2019.