The Operation Awesome theme for the #atozchallenge 2021 is book reviews. I had the chance to re-read some old favorites to see how my perspective has changed over time, as well as some new loves!
Z is for My Eyes Are Up Here by Laura Zimmerman
MY EYES ARE UP HERE is a YA contemporary novel about high school sophomore Greer Walsh who seriously got done dirty by puberty - last time she checked, her bra size was 30H. Greer is constantly trying to fade into the background with her oversized shirts and slouchy posture, while her best friend is always making waves. When Greer is voluntold to help the new boy at her school, Jackson Oates, she has to grapple with her crush on Jackson vs. her desire to be seen as more than a walking pair of boobs.
As someone with gender dysphoria, I totally got Greer's unhappiness with her body. I hated everything about going through puberty - especially no longer being able to cross my arms tight over my chest. Greer constantly struggles with finding a bra that fits, going swimming with her friends, even finding a volleyball uniform she can wear. She's always self-conscious, and while that was certainly relatable, it got repetitive at times. I wanted the novel to show some growth on Greer's part, whether that was her deciding that she wanted to pursue breast reduction surgery (which she does consider during the novel), or her coming to terms with her body the way it is and accepting herself. By the end of the novel, though, neither of those things happen. I felt that the novel ended before it should have and didn't really resolve the main conflict.
I liked that it was Greer's friend Maggie and not Greer herself who was making waves. I often find that the main character in YA contemporary is the Everything Girl: cute and funny and quirky and stands up against prejudice and, and, and. It was nice to see a main character who would rather be on the sidelines, someone who is relatable to those of us who were too shy to ever want to be the center of attention. Maggie is the one protesting the dress code, or speaking up against the sexist nature of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the spring musical. (I've been in that show, and let me tell you, yuck. Maggie had the right idea.) Towards the end of the novel, Greer does stand up on behalf of Maggie, which was some well-needed character development on Greer's part. The romance subplot was also enjoyable, since it wasn't the main focus of the novel. It felt more real for Greer to be dealing with things other than her attraction to Jackson.
I would recommend MY EYES ARE UP HERE to YA readers of all ages. In addition to the body image issues, there are also discussions of how moving often makes life difficult, family dynamics, and sexism.