Saturday, February 16, 2008
Na, An. 2008. The Fold. Releases April 2008.
Joyce stared at herself in the mirror, twisting her head from side to side, finger combing more of her long black hair over the unsightly bulge that used to be her temple. What had started as a tiny red bump had swollen and grown in circumference with each passing hour and day, building up over the week into a massive burial mound on the side of her head. And though Joyce had tried to head it off with her arsenal of tools and tricks accumulated over years of poring through beauty magazines, the medication, steaming and "gentle" squeezing did nothing to stop the growth.
What can I say about The Fold? In some ways it's your typical YA novel. A teen unhappy with the way she looks, a teen who feels that her life would be better if she could just look a certain way, a teen who thinks that she could get the guy of her dreams if only....if only. Joyce is such a teen. She feels her sister, Helen, is the pretty one, the perfect one. The one she'll never live up to in a million years. (Authentic feeling for a little sister to have? Yes!) There is also a little brother. Joyce is the middle child. The narrator is Korean-American. And there is that angle of the novel. While some things are specific to that culture, many things--many feelings are universal. The crush on the guy out of her league, for example, the typical problem between friends, family (parents and siblings) and school drama, etc.
Joyce's dream of coming back "beautiful" and "perfect" after summer vacation are within reach due to her aunt's winning of the lottery. Her aunt who is big into plastic surgery wins big and passes along gifts to her family. Some of her gifts tend to be controversial, however, and are geared to alter who the person is. In a way that is. For example, the little brother wants to grow tall so he can play basketball. She gives him a bottle of pills (or some such thing) that is supposed to "help" him grow. The older sister gets a matchmaker. A gift that is so NOT welcome. Her aunt feels she needs a boyfriend to be "happy." And Joyce's gift??? Well, her aunt wants to gift her with plastic surgery. A cosmetic surgery to give her eyelid folds.
Joyce has conflicting emotions about the surgery, about the procedure. Part of her feels that she needs it to be beautiful. That she's unacceptable, "ugly" without it. That her aunt was saying that she needs surgery to be as beautiful as her sister. That she needs an extra boost to match up to everyone's expectations. But a part of her feels that it is a drastic step. And perhaps an unnecessary one at that?
Beauty. Self-esteem. Self-image. Self-loathing. Sibling Rivalry.