Sixteen-year-old Sloane has just been offered the chance to compete for a film scholarship. She has two weeks to produce a video. If that wasn’t hard enough, she has to work with Isaac Alexander and she has to move in with her dad and step-mother while her mom’s away. Then Sloane discovers a bald spot on her head, then another, and another. She has alopecia areata, something with no known cause or cure. Her hair might grow back, it might all fall out, the doctors just don’t know. Sloane tries to distract herself with the video and keep her condition a secret, but as it gets worse, she finds herself becoming more like the girls she’s always mocked: someone who obsessed over their looks.
This novel really hit me as I was reading it. I have a sister who was diagnosed with alopecia so I had a lot of sympathy for Sloane. Every time another character treated her fears as insignificant or silly because it was just hair, I wanted to scream at them. Easy for them to say when it wasn’t happening to them.
I really enjoyed Sloane’s inner fight between not wanting to be one of those girls who only care about her looks and realizing that she does care, and that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As more was revealed about why Sloane thought she shouldn’t care, and the more she realized she did, it was like we were seeing the real Sloane. I also liked the complicated relationships she had with her mother and her step-mother, especially the one with step-mom Kim.
I appreciated that even with the diagnosis, that the book was so much more than just Sloane having alopecia. She had a life before and she’ll have one during. It didn’t become a ‘this girl is her disease’ novel. It forced her to grow up, to realize some harsh truths about herself, but it didn’t change what she loved or the things she was good at doing. I thought the author did a great job expressing Sloane’s reaction to her disease but I wish we’d gotten more of her parents’ reactions and more time to see other characters react.
The video project and Sloane’s forced work relationship with Isaac was a lot of fun. He turned out to be really sweet and I was definitely hoping he’d turn out to be a good guy for Sloane. Sloane’s best friend Lexi was also a lot of fun and I couldn’t stop from smiling when she would appear. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing the final video that they ended up producing. It sounded good.
I love that YA books are tackling subjects like this and bringing awareness to things that don’t really get talked about all that often. I hope to see more of it happening.