Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Happy Release: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

What I Like About Me
by Jenna Guillaume
-YA, Romance | Goodreads
Release date (US): April 1, 2020

You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE SUMMER OF THEIR LIVES?

This summer is probably not going to be that.

Source: Everything that's happened since yesterday ...

The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she'd be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.

Not when she's spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.

Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie's shaky confidence. And her best friend starts going out with the boy she's always loved.

But Maisie's got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this summer is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn't let anything, or anyone, hold her back...

Excerpt: (from pages 46–53)

Oh, DJ, what a day. It started out bad, and it ended up worse.

Let’s start with the bad, shall we? Don’t worry, we’ll get to the worse stuff in time.


Sadly, real life is not like the movies. There was no montage of Anna and me trying on various outfits, pulling faces, dancing around and having a glorious time, while a track like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” played over the top. There was no “stick you” moment to snobby salespeople, no triumphant moment of glory when I found the perfect bikini. There was definitely no finding a magical item of clothing that somehow fit both me and Anna and would take us on adventures we’ve never even dreamed of.

Here’s what there was:

Anna: “We’re looking for an amazing swimsuit for my amazing friend.”

Salesperson: “What’s your size?”

Me: *mumbles incoherently*

“We have this piece and this piece available in that size.”

Anna: “That’s it?”

Me: *dying*

Anna: “Come on, Maisie, let’s try that place down the road.”

End scene. Repeat four times over, with only slight variations, such as:

Salesperson: “Sorry, we don’t carry that size.”


Salesperson: “You could try these separates? They look great together!” (When they didn’t match at all.)

Finally, we reached a shop that had absolutely gorgeous swimsuit AND the salesperson said they carried my size. I almost felt hopeful. Almost. Then I saw the price tags. A top alone cost at least $150 and a one-piece was over $200.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” I said, and walked out.

“What are you doing? They have some really nice things,” Anna said as she followed after me.

“Did you see the prices?! I told you this would be impossible.”

Anna bit her lip. “Hey, I think there’s one more store we haven’t tri—”

“Anna, I love you, but come on. It’s time to give up.”

“No! The perfect swimsuit could be waiting for you in there. You won’t know unless you at least take a look.”

She grabbed my hand and practically dragged me to the last store. I was in there for all of three seconds before I froze, staring up at two huge posters behind the counter.

Anna looked up to see what had caught my attention.“Oh my god, is that your sister?”

Yep. There was Eva, on stage, in a blue-sequined bikini and high, high heels, her tanned and toned body posed, poised, and perfect—the words “this could be you” scrawled over her flat stomach. And there was Eva again, this time in a pink strapless evening dress, a grin on her face, tears in her eyes, and a tiara on her head, with the words “Enter Now!” over her perky (thanks to the chicken fillets I knew were stuffed inside her bra) cleavage.

I spun around, walked straight out of the store, and kept walking down the road.

“Maisie, wait! What was that?” Anna said, chasing after me.

“It’s this ridiculous pageant they do here every year: Cobbers Bay Miss Teen Queen,” I said, affecting an announcer voice. “Eva won when she was sixteen. Guess she’s part of the advertising now.”

Anna was quiet. She knows Eva and I don’t get on, although she doesn’t know the full details of why. I’ve always been too embarrassed to tell her—to tell anyone.

Then she said, “Who cares about Eva! Why don’t we go back and actually look in that shop? You never know—”

“I do know. It’s not going to happen.”

“You’re so stubborn sometimes.”

I stuck my tongue out at her, and she stuck out hers back.

“Seriously, let’s just go to the beach,” I said.

“Okay, but…what are you going to wear?”

I let out a fake-sob-that-almost-wasn’t-fake.

“Look, why don’t you show me the swimsuits you have?” Anna said gently. “They can’t be that bad. They’ve gotta be better than those board shorts you were wearing, honestly.”

We went back to the cabin, and I put on my swimsuit. The expression on Anna’s face said, I’m trying to keep a straight face and, oh god, how do I say this nicely, but all her mouth said was, “Ummm…”

“It’s alright,” I said. “Let’s just go.” I put my jeans and t-shirt back on over the top of my swimsuit, and didn’t take them off all day.

Not when I was sweating like pig iron on the beach, while everyone else went in the water.

Not when Sebastian said to me for the second time, “You coming, Maise?” and I said, “Nah,” and then he said, “C’mon, aren’t you boiling?” and I said, “Nah,” while trying to subtly wipe the sweat off my upper lip with my equally sweaty arm.

And definitely not when Beamer decided to intermittently run from the water up to where I was sitting and shake himself off above me like a goddamn dog, saying, “Come on, Maisie Martin, the water’s beautiful,” before running back in.

DJ, at this point, you’re probably wondering if Anna’s plan to talk me up and draw me into conversation with Sebastian Lee was more successful than her plan to get me into a hot new bikini. Well, I hope you don’t mind spoilers (personally, I’m torn on them: sometimes they can enhance my enjoyment, and other times they make me really, really mad), because here is a big one: IT WASN’T.

Oh, she asked him lots of questions and tried to include me, but I was still struggling to move past monosyllabic responses like “nah,” “yeah,” “ha,” “uhhh,” and “mmmm.” At one point Beamer quietly
said to me, “Are you on LinkedIn, Maisie Martin? ’Cos I’d like to endorse you for your conversational

“Is anyone even on LinkedIn? What are you, a forty nine-year-old investment banker?” I hissed at him.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t sprain your tongue there. That was a lot of words in one go.”
In response, I stuck out said tongue. Beamer grinned.

Which really made me want to show him. I turned to Sebastian.

“So, Seb—Sebastian,” I managed to get out. Then my mind went blank. Think of something, Maisie. Think. Sebastian was looking at me expectantly. “Uhhhh…”

I heard Beamer chuckling behind me.

“How’s school going?” I finally squeaked.

Sebastian made a face. “Ugh, I don’t even want to think about it.”

“Oh.” I glanced over at Anna, who gave me a tight smile.

Sebastian sighed. “I’m so done with it. And Mum won’t get off my back. She’s all, ‘I know you’ve got a brain in that head, Sebastian, why aren’t you using it?!’”

“She sounds like my mum,” Anna said.

“Really?” Sebastian tilted his head her way, a smile on his face. “My condolences.”

“Hey, your mum’s not that bad,” Beamer said to him.

Sebastian scoffed. “Yeah right. She won’t even let me go to Penang with Dad and the twins in February. She reckons I can’t afford to miss any school, especially with the marks I’m getting.”

Sebastian’s family makes the trip to Malaysia every few years, and I know how much he loves going over there. He’s really close to his cousins, despite the distance. I was working up the courage to say something about this when Beamer broke in with, “Ah, don’t worry, Sebby. I told ya, I’ll tutor you. Have you up to scratch in no time.”

I snorted at the idea that Beamer could teach Sebastian anything.

“I had to get a tutor last year,” Anna said. “Mainly for math. It’s sooooo painful.”

“Right?!” Sebastian said. “It’s like, when are we ever going to use this shit after school?”

“Totally!” Anna said. The two of them shared a smile. “Maisie’s brilliant at math, though, aren’t you Maise?” Anna added, looking at me pointedly. “And English. She’s so smart.”

I laughed nervously. After a moment, I said to Sebastian, “I, um, I bet you kill it at English.”

He scrunched up his nose. “Nah. That’s even worse than math. All Shakespeare and poetry. Bo-ring. No offense if you’re into that. It just does my head in.”

“But—” I was about to protest, thinking about Sebastian’s own poetry, and then I realized he was probably saying those things because he didn’t want anyone to know about it. I swallowed the rest of my sentence.

“But what?” Sebastian prompted.

“Oh. Um. Nothing.”

“Okay,” he said, that bemused (or whatever the word for it is) expression appearing on his face.

Yep. I was totally nailing this whole conversation thing.


* First published in Australia in 2019 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd. under the title WHAT I LIKE ABOUT ME by Jenna Guillaume. First United States version published in 2020 by Peachtree Publishing Company Inc. Text Copyright © 2019 by Jenna Guillaume. Published by arrangement with Peachtree Publishing Company Inc.

* Excerpt courtesy of publisher


  1. Loved the excerpt so I'm adding it to the list for a YA summer read. :)


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