The Look is one of those books that will either work well, or not work at all. Combining something many teenage girls dream about like modelling with a nightmare of cancer is a risk. So full credit to Sophia Bennett for pulling it off.
When Ted (Edwina) Trout is spotted by a modelling agency, she is certain it is a joke. Her sister, Ava, is the beautiful one after all. However, after her sister’s shock diagnosis of cancer and with Ava’s encouragement (and at time’s orders) she decides to try modelling to bring in a little extra money and also relate more to her sister, who has always been the fashion aficionado of the two. When,
This book was not what I expected at all. I loved the relationship between Ava and Ted the most; they really had this wonderful closeness and rivalry and felt like real siblings. Both of them are created so naturally and well-written that the scenario of becoming a model felt more grounded than mere wish-fulfilment. In both instances, Bennett steers her novel clear of saccharine and unrealistic feelings, but doesn’t avoid the more unsettling aspects either. It is not an ‘edgy’ or ‘gritty’ read though, but neither it is 100% froth.
The Look, for me, was not so much about dealing with a sibling’s cancer, or becoming a model, but about sisters and their unconditional love for one another. That said, obviously both of the above are significant themes and focuses of the novel.
The modelling world was well-written and really interested me- both in terms of its extravagant aspects and the the pressure and problems Ted was presented with. I adored that even with these difficulties, Ted was able to assert herself as a character and became more and more confident throughout the novel.
I loved the subtle romances in the Look too; they never took away from the main focus of the book and they also felt very real and teenage. Ava’s boyfriend in particular was a character I really warmed to, as was Ted’s quasi-romantic interest.
Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of British YA, contemporary YA and novels about sisterly bonds, as well as those interested in modelling. Also although you should never judge a book by it’s cover, I have to mention how lovely the cover is. The edges of the pages are pink and it’s just a really cute looking novel.
I received this book for free from Chicken House UK and am very grateful for the opportunity to read and review it. As always my review has not been affected by how I received the book!