What I Like About Me: Humour, Heartbreak and the Power of Self-Belief
Jenna Guillaume’s 2019 debut novel, What I Like About Me, takes your hand and pulls you right into the whirling, kaleidoscopic centre of protagonist Maisie Martin’s life. As if it isn’t enough that her long-time crush only has eyes for her best friend, her parents are finding creative excuses to avoid each other, including splitting up the family for the sunny expanse of the summer holidays, and the annual trip to the beach will inevitably include the humiliation of revealing swimwear, her “sadistic sumbitch” of an English teacher has assigned the task of keeping a ‘Discovery Journal’ over the holidays, which Maisie loathes… at first.
Written in a touchingly authentic, diarised style, we follow Maisie down the sandy beach track to self-discovery, share her chicken-salt chips and secret doubts, and find ourselves laughing along with her on this summer that is everything she expected yet completely unpredictable, in the same heartbeat.
Jenna Guillaume’s lovingly crafted characters and impeccable portrayal of what it is to grow up, will stay with you long after you’ve savoured every last crumb of this wonderful story. This is one for everybody who learnt to love themselves the hard way, who can’t get enough of Arnold Schwarzenegger (or may be biased towards the Rock), and who is looking to have their heart thoroughly warmed. What I Like About Me is a valuable addition to any bookshelf, and an irrefutable reminder of why I love Australian YA fiction.
Jenna Guillaume is appearing at Word Play talking body positivity and at Love YA, a full day of free YA Programming on Saturday 7 September at Brisbane Square Library. Jenna will also join panels at Brisbane Writers Festival with Jane Caro, Jess Hill and many more.
Review by Emily Winter, 2019 Youth Ambassador