Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Penguin (Speak)
Publish Date: 1992
Humor, agriculture and young love all come together in Joan Bauer's first novel, set in rural Iowa. Sixteen-year-old Ellie Morgan's life would be almost perfect if she could just get her potentially prize-winning pumpkin to put on about 200 more pounds—and if she could take off 20 herself...in hopes of attracting Wes, the new boy in town.
- "'I think, Ellie, that people respect people that are either like them or people they want to be like.'” (Paperback, pg. 9)
- "Memories were part of me, but Nana taught me not to live in them. We’re forever a part of the people who love us, she said. That kind of love is always alive.” (Paperback, pg. 22)
The cover is just simple. It's not embarrassing, it's not pretty, it's not exciting. It's simple and it fits very well for the book. Overall, it's alright.
Usually Bauer’s books are pretty standard three stars, not super exciting, not boring, fast and interesting. Average, but enjoyable. This one, however, actually rather annoyed me on several points. And I had a relatively hard time getting through it, when compared to her others books, and when thinking that it’s just under two hundred pages long.
It started out relatively good. Ellie and her pumpkin growing ways, her friends, and how her father disapproves were interesting. And then Ellie started worrying about her weight, and her father pushed her to get skinny, and she started acting jealous about Wes’ girlfriend in his old town, when she’s never met the girl nor had a conversation with the boy. And it kind of went downhill from there.
I liked Ellie at first, and then I was mostly just annoyed with her. I understand her pumpkin growing, and I even understand her self-image issues. Those are very understandable. It only bothered me that, while she didn’t have very high thoughts of herself (nor were they very bad), she didn’t seem to care very much about her weight. The only reason she was trying to be on a diet was because her father was pushing her to. But I’ll get to him in a moment. But she’s the kind of person who hates everyone/thing that goes against her, whether it’s a girl or a rival in a competition or the weather. There’s all her issues with Wes and other girls. She barely even has a conversation with him, yet she’s believes she’s practically in love with the guy. Then she’s bothered by any other female within his vicinity, bad talking them even though she has no reason to. Getting jealous and mean about his girlfriend, even though she’s never met or seen the girl, and hasn’t even had enough of a conversation with the boy for it to be okay for her to be upset about it. And she even publicly, purposely humiliates this popular girl because she’s flirting with Wes, and that’s pushed aside because the girl is apparently not-very-smart and always throwing herself at guys, so who really cares. None of those things are okay.
And then there’s the fact that I didn’t really believe in her and Wes’ relationship. We don’t get to see a whole lot of their getting to know each other, there is practically no swoon, and then by the ending they’re supposedly in love. I just didn’t buy into any of it.
Now, my problem with her father. Her father is supposed to be some great motivational specialist, but he’s constantly pushing his daughter to lose weight, find a boyfriend, and stop trying to grow pumpkins, the one thing that she actually likes. I understand his worrying about her school. I don’t understand his pushing her to lose weight because she supposedly can’t reach her full potential at her current weight (I’m paraphrasing, but it says this in the book, I am not kidding). And I think that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Those were my real only problems here. I liked Richard, Ellie’s cousin. The pumpkin thing was fine. The Cyril, Ellie’s rival, issue was alright, even if it turned out a little too well so that Ellie could win the competition. The writing seemed a little draggy and boring, and the storyline wasn’t really keeping my interest very much.
Overall, not a very good book. A rather big disappoint when compared to her others. And I’m not in a rush to pick up another of Bauer’s books, although I probably will at some point.