Review: Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Title: Never Enough

Author: Denise Jaden

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: July 10th, 2012

Interest: Author / Contemporary

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?

For some reason I’m having a tough time writing this review like normal, so I’m going to try a bullet list review today featuring what worked and didn’t work for me.

What Worked for Me:

  • I like the dynamics in Claire and Loann’s relationship.  It’s easy to identify with Loann and understand how disconnected from Claire she’s become.  In the beginning of Never Enough it’s hard to say whether Claire feels this way as well, but Loann feels it.  She feels awkward and ugly in comparison to Loann, and like she isn’t interesting enough to spend time with Claire and her friends.  Claire is set up as this perfect doll who can do no wrong.  It’s obvious that Claire isn’t perfect, especially based on the summary, but she’s found a way to deceive those around her.  This deception is one of the biggest reasons why Claire and Loann struggle with their relationship because Loann finds that she can’t trust her sister.  Loann’s always looked up to Claire, even when her family and friends are constantly comparing her to Claire.  They share a tight bond which falters as the story progresses.
  • I like Marcus’s character.  He brings out a different side of Loann; he brings out her more confident side.  She’s not always confident around Marcus, but she discovers that she can be more than Loann’s sister when she’s around him.  As their friendship grows, Loann begins to detach herself from Loann’s shadow, even though she’s still constantly thinking about her and comparing herself to Claire.  This is when Loann finds photography and independence.  She feels comfortable around Marcus and can be herself.  Even though it’s difficult for Loann to stop comparing herself to her sister, the reader can see her character growing and finding herself.
  • When looking for a book dealing with eating disorders, Never Enough doesn’t fall into that usual category since we’re not in the shoes of the character dealing with the actual eating disorder.  We’re watching everything through a bystander’s, Loann’s, eyes.  We see how it affects her and her relationship with her sister.  Denise Jaden has written a book that those who have a friend or relative battling with an eating disorder can read and connect with.

What Didn’t Work for Me:

  • The pacing and length are off in Never Enough.  I had read almost 200 pages and was left wondering when the real conflicts in the story were going to develop.  At this point there had been hints about Claire’s eating disorder and a lot of story set up, but nothing major was going on.  There is one big development between Loann and another character that shocked me, but that was about it.  I wish that either the story moved faster, or that there were less side stories tied in (Marcus’s home life, Loann’s parents’ marriage faltering, etc.)  I will say, however, that by the end of the book I could see what Denise Jaden was doing by writing the story this way and I appreciated it.  I’m worried, though, that my students might not stick with the book because of the “slow parts” as they would say.  Never Enough would probably work better for me if it were about 100 pages shorter.

Comments

  1. This seems like a book a student could do for my “end of the year” reading project because I always have one who is looking for something dealing with eating disorders.

    Love the cover – it adds a softness with that title.

    C

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