I was super surprised and excited when I found a pristine condition copy of this book at my local go-to shop for super-cheap books. I started it almost immediately, and now that I'm finished, I have to say I'm disappointed. I've heard great things about this book. I wanted to love it. I wanted to be so moved by it so that I would need for other people to read it, and experience what I did.
The Heart Is Not A Size had enormous potential to be absolutely amazing. It had the potential to be one of those books that can open your eyes and change your life. With the kind of issues that teens face these days, this could have been a book that would speak to them and actually have something to say that means something. About body issues and eating disorders and the pressure that teens are under to be perfect and to do something extraordinary. About friendship and loyalty and where the line between the two is, because they aren't always on the same side - sometimes you have to be disloyal to be a true friend to someone. About helping and giving of yourself to someone who needs it.
All of these things, and more, would have made this an important, MUST READ book for all ages, not just teens or young adults, but a book that everyone could benefit from. But these facets, the ones that I feel should have been the heart and soul of the story, weren't given the respect and attention that they deserved. It was like the story skirted around these aspects and only looked at them from the corner of its eye. To me, this felt like a cop out and was a complete disappointment.
What is this story about if it is not about the issues that Georgia faces with her panic attacks? What is it about if it is not about Riley, Georgia's best friend since kindergarten, who has an eating disorder? What is it about if it is not about DEALING with these issues? What does this story teach or communicate to someone who is struggling with these issues, or for someone who is trying to help someone deal with them?
In my opinion, anywhere from 'not very much' to 'nothing at all'. This book didn't delve into the true danger of eating disorders. It did focus on the wedge that it can drive between friends, but I felt that this was mostly because of Georgia's panic attacks that we got this impression from her. She worried about how they could not be friends anymore when they've been friends over 2/3 of their lives. But they remained friends for that long because Georgia was the "open-arms, no-judgment" friend, which can be just as unhealthy in a friendship as betrayal is. Because it is a betrayal of your friend if you let them hurt themselves in silence, which is something the Georgia finally realizes. This one aspect, Georgia speaking up and finally finding the gumption to stand up to her friend for her friend's sake, is what earned this book a two star rating rather than one.
There is so much superfluous detail that what should be important here is buried. Things like the color and texture of sand, to the doll that is being ravaged by the sun on top of a shanty tin roof, to the way that a volunteer carries himself when he listens. Yes, its beautiful writing, but it doesn't add to a story that has nothing to say about the important issues that its flirting with. Nothing is resolved; not the charity project that the girls went to Mexico for, not the issues between them, not anything. This is literally just a several month long diary entry, from winter when Georgia finds the charity listing and starts looking into it, to mid-summer in Mexico, when apparently Georgia loses her diary after the pinata party.
I wanted to love this. I wanted to be able to gush and force it into the hands of my friends and make them read it and pass it on to their friends. I just can't because this book didn't have the courage to be the book it should have been.