Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: Zitface by Emily Howse

Zitface by Emily Howse

Thirteen-year-old Olivia Hughes knows what she wants to do with her life—be an actress. And she’s already on her way. She just landed a national ad campaign that should get her noticed.
But then her luck runs out. A little pimple turns into a full-blown case of acne, with serious side effects for her career, relationships, and budding romance with J.W., the new guy at school.

Now all Olivia wants to do is hide, but she can’t. She goes from being the girl at school everyone wants to be…to Zitface, a girl who is teased, dumped, and even fired.
What do you do when you’ve lost control of everything in your life? Olivia has to find out the hard way. And maybe, what she finds isn’t so bad after all.

Zitface was a unique and realistic debut that presents acne in a very believable way. At thirteen, Olivia Hughes has never so much as broken out before. She is popular at school, has a great group of friends, and the new guy JW is noticing her. Throw in the fact that she just secured a spot on the national Wacky Water ad campaign and her life is set. But then Olivia gets a pimple. And then another. And suddenly Olivia is suffering from full blown acne. The way people reacted to her and treated her was terrible. She was bullied and teased at school and on top of that her agent and the Wacky Water people didn't want her in the commercial. That was all it took for Olivia to go from the top to the bottom.

My heart broke for Olivia because how many of us haven't suffered from a pimple at least once over the years? It's a normal occurrence for teenagers and Olivia's peers, and even those adults close to her, treated her so terribly. Instead of being there to support her, they chose to tear her down instead. I couldn't believe anyone could be so mean. Olivia was strong though, and luckily she had a few nice people at her side, including some she may never have noticed if she had never lost her acting gigs. Olivia's dream was to become a professional actress, but all of those hopes were shot down when her agent realized she was no longer "perfect". Olivia's struggle was so sad and I just wanted to just go over and give her a hug. She's definitely not alone with her skin problems but she truly felt like she was.

There are a lot of sub plots in Zitface and over the course of the novel Olivia learned a lot about both herself and the people she cared about.

I've never read a book where the main character suffered from acne, or at least none that I can recall, so this was a refreshing and touching look at how someone's life can be completely changed just by one, small pimple. Readers who have suffered from acne can relate to Olivia and those who haven't will be just as moved by her story and may learn something about it in the process.

Zitface is a solid debut that encourages readers to stay true to who they are and never let anyone make you feel inferior. The Author's Note in the back further expands on what Olivia was dealing with and gives some advice from the author and she also talks about her own struggle with acne.

Overall, I recommend picking this up if you get a chance. It is targeted more to the middle grade age group but I think everyone, even adults, can take something from it. I'm looking forward to seeing what Emily Howse writes next.

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

April 28, 2011/Marshall Cavendish Children's Books/224 Pages/Young Adult & Middle Grade Appeal

Source: Publisher (ARC)


  1. Kelsey! Your blog! It's so different! I LOVE IT. :)

    I usually have trouble connecting with younger main characters, but I'l have to look into this one, since you liked it. Thanks for the review!

  2. I don't remember reading about this before either but I want to read it now.

    aside from that, you made this book sound really cool. Thanks for the review.

  3. Ditto that I haven't read any books where the main character is dealing with acne, rather than just a zit or two. Which is surprising, considering so many teens suffer from it. Kudos to Emily Howse for using such a negative experience in her childhood in such a positive manner now.


  4. Wow. That's harsh and sad! It never ceases to amaze me the capacity for cruelty that kids can have. I'm more surprised though that all the adults seem to be cruel as well. How sad.

    I don't know that I've read any books about main characters with severe acne before (although I've read about other physical imperfections) and this one sounds interesting!


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