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Stephanie Parent, Reader and Writer

Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.

Picture Perfect (Picturing Perfect #1)

Picture Perfect (Picturing Perfect #1) - Alessandra Thomas Warning: this is as much a little essay about body image and new adult as a review... :DI loved this book and thought the concept was a really great, original and relevant one for the new adult genre. Yes, we need books that address body-image issues for and about ALL age groups (well, maybe not toddlers, but ya know what I mean...) but I actually think this topic dovetails really well with other new adult concerns. It may seem superficial, but, as this book shows us, the way you look and feel in your physical skin has a lot to do with how you perceive yourself on a deeper level and how you choose to live your life.So what does this have to do with new adult? Well, I can't speak for boys as much, but for girls, the college years (or age, even if you're not in college) are a time when your body can change as much as every other aspect of your life. In Picture Perfect, Cat undergoes a dramatic change after a horseback riding accident, steroids, and weight gain; but smaller and more gradual changes can also have a big impact. We joke about the "Freshman 15," but the truth is that many older teenage girls are still developing into their adult body type, and with all the other changes going on in college--physical and emotional stress, new routines, more or less exercise--your body can go through a lot. For me personally, I was really into dance, and in high school I found that by exercising a lot and watching my diet, I could stay very thin without too much effort. In college puberty finally caught up to me, and the increased dancing and other exercise I did didn't keep me thin as much as it caused me to build more muscle. As someone who'd always thought of myself as a very *small* person, it was hard for me to adjust to my body changing on top of everything else. Really, it became one more thing I had to accept that I didn't have ultimate control over, just like so many things in my college years. So based on my own experience and that of others I'd know, I'd say that dealing with body image is both an important part of the new adult experience in itself, and a metaphor for other adjustments we have to make at this stage in life.To get back to the book...Picture Perfect did a great job of looking at body image as part of being a new adult, of figuring out and accepting yourself for who you are, even when "who you are" changes or doesn't fit the mold you've imagined for yourself. I LOVED Cat's boyfriend Nate, and I thought it was especially smart of the author to have Nate dealing with body image issues himself as well. Nate was a complex, flawed character with a lot of backstory, and I loved him more because of that, though I also got really pissed at him! I also liked the fact that Nate studied architecture, Cat studied fashion design, and the author was able to integrate the ideas of form, balance, and structural beauty so essential to these two subjects in many ways throughout the book.