Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 9, 2011}   Plastic, by Sarah N. Harvey

Synopsis from Orca Books: “In our beauty-obsessed culture, standing up against the drive to perfection can have some disastrous consequences.  When Jack develops an interest in something, he puts his all into it, making lists, doing research, and learning all he can. When his best friend Leah decides to have plastic surgery for her sixteenth birthday, Jack is horrified—and then determined to stop her. Researching the surgery and the results, he finds that there are unscrupulous surgeons operating on the very young, and no one does anything about it. Jack organizes a protest and becomes an instant celebrity. But when someone else takes up the cause and the protest turns violent, Jack is forced to make some tough decisions.”


Orca Book Publishers is an organization that produces fiction for reluctant readers, especially readers on the lower spectrum, with a reading level between second grade and fourth grade.  Plastic comes from the Orca Soundings series, which is for those ages 12+, and is written in a way that the reader, especially a reluctant reader, can easily understand.  

While I liked the main message this book portrays about body image, I had a hard time getting past the breast fetish Jack, the main character, has.  The very first page of the novel begins with Jack listing off forty different words for “breasts.”  He further states that he knows 138 words for that particular anatomy, and then explains how many times he has seen them in the nude, and how much he focuses on them each day.  Now, I do understand why Harvey included the terminology in her novel, but I find myself too old fashioned to condone it.  Honestly, I think the overt emphasis on breasts in the novel, from Jack’s point of view, was unnecessary to the overall story.  This, of course, is a personal preference, but I do not want my children, or students, reading a book in which the main character obsesses over breasts and talks about them non-stop, even if it does relate to the theme of body image and the evils of plastic surgery.  I think I would have been more comfortable if the main character was female, as opposed to a male, but either way I think I still would have been ill at ease.  Yet, even though I was turned off initially, I think Harvey did a very good job pulling the story together in the end, as she began focusing it more on Jack’s plight to expose the harms of plastic surgery, and less on his obsession with female anatomy.  I would recommend this to an older, more mature teen/adult reluctant reader.  Two and a half stars.      

Check out my Orca Book Publishers page for more information, titles, and reviews for reluctant readers!

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