Thursday Review: Violet by Design by Melissa Walker

The Blurb:
I was going to get out of the modeling business for good.

But now I’m having trouble sticking with my decision. After all, if it wasn’t for modeling, I might still be the invisible wallflower. Hot guys like Paulo wouldn’t be interested in me. And I’d never have seen Brazil or Spain-and now France! On the other hand…

I also wouldn’t have to choose between my best friend from home and my agent’s shrill demands. Or anguish over my body the way only runway models do. Not to mention all this trouble I’m getting into for speaking out in the press about eating disorders.

Maybe the life of an international model isn’t for me. But if I quit for good, I might always wonder…What if?

My review:

I actually enjoyed this better than book one because the arc was very similar, but this book tackled issues in a different way that I appreciated and had more developed side characters. I think it helped that the issues approached in this book were body image and weight, which is something all girls feel pressure about, whereas most girls aren’t models who deal with the pressures of fame, money, and nervous breakdowns due to the depression of maintaining a stressful career as a teenager. Plus, in book one, all the issues Violet had seemed so avoidable with one key word. Moderation. In this book, the issues go beyond Violet’s personal, and frequently bad decisions to factors outside of her control. Violet gains five pounds, is told to lose it, complains publicly on her blog, suffers consequences from her blog going public, and unexpectedly lands an ad campaign with a place trying to improve their PR by caring about body image…yet they still want her to lose five pounds. Disturbed by the hypocrisy of it all, Violet is torn between furthering her career and selling out.

In book one, Violet’s all or nothing approach kind of bothered me, but this book helped me see that’s her character. Moderation isn’t in her vocabulary. She either jumps head first into the darkest depths of the dark side of modeling, or quits completely. She either starves herself, or eats a half gallon of ice cream a day. She falls in love the exact same way. Violet doesn’t do half measures. I think that was easier to see this round because this book did have models who could live the lifestyle with professionalism and grace without completely losing themselves. The career isn’t evil, the other girls aren’t bad or lost. It’s just not a good path for someone as impressionable and sometimes immature as the protagonist and that’s okay. Flawed characters are more interesting. As an adult that sometimes struggles to get by, it was pretty frustrating watching Violet get handed opportunity after opportunity and seems hell bent on destroying them all. But that’s an age thing. The romances in this were frustrating, but again, this isn’t for my age group. One thing I really liked is this book focused a lot less on the whole “but I never thought I was pretty” thing.

There’s this trend in YA books to have obviously beautiful girls think they’re plain. And frankly, it’s annoying. I’m not talking about books with plain girls who discover the beauty of their own bodies, or find a guy who sees them as beautiful, or discover the friends they’re jealous of are jealous of how they look. That’s actually kind of realistic. Everyone is much prettier than they think they are and the message that we are our worst critics is an important one. But there’s a line and a lot of books cross it. Sorry, but if you’re pretty enough to be able to literally get recruited into modeling off the street, or be able to quit and have your agent bend over backwards to bring you back, or have multiple guys fall for you, or have a room of photographers go completely still and breathless when you walk out on stage, you’re more than average and refusing to accept that or acknowledge that actually makes girls feel worse about themselves because if she thinks she’s ugly, what the heck does that make actual average people? By this book, Violet’s mostly accepted she looks good, not in a vain way, but in a healthy one. Even though she crash dieted and got embarrassed when her agent kept making comments about her weight, I was never under the impression Violet thought those five pounds made a difference in herself or the way she looked. It was just something she had to lose to keep her job.

This book improves upon the first one. Worth a read if you enjoyed book one at all.

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