Pretty Face Book Poster Image

Pretty Face



Bellisimo book about body image, Italian style.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

A good book to start discussions about body image and lifestyle. Parents interested in using this book to talk to their daughter's about body image may want to check out Common Sense Media's tips first.

Positive messages

Hayley learns to see herself as a whole person, and not to hate her body.

Positive role models

Hayley is a funny, spirited character whom readers will quickly identify with. Her journey to become a person living in her "perfect house of me" is both charming -- and inspirational.

Not applicable

Hayley has sex with her Italian boyfriend -- it is only lightly described.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Hayley drinks wine with the Italian family she stays with.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main character decides to have sex with her Italian boyfriend, but the scene is barely described. She also drinks some wine with her meals with permission from the family she is staying with. In the end, she learns a valuable lesson about accepting herself as a whole person -- instead of being focused only on her weight.

What's the story?

There's a lot of pressure from her mom -- and her L.A. peers -- to be thin, and Hayley worries that she will never be anything more than the funny friend to the boy that she likes. When her parents send her to a friend's house in Italy, Hayley finds peace that she has never known. She is surrounded by healthy food, a family that enjoys talking, beautiful places to walk -- and even a cute boy who seems to think she is more than just a pretty face.

Is it any good?


Hayley is a funny, spirited character whom readers will quickly identify with. And the descriptions of the Italian countryside, from domestic scenes with her summer family to the special spot her Italian boyfriend takes her to, lend texture and magic to her story.

Readers may at times get tired of all the American bashing, even if a lot of it rings true. Toward the end of the book, for example, Hayley has dinner with a bunch of young Italian kids and is amazed at the sophisticated conversation they have about politics -- in English. Could any place be as ideal as the Italian world the author describes? Probably not. And her portrayal of shallow L.A. is a bit overblown, too: When Hayley arrives back at LAX, the conversations around her are all about nannies, plastic surgery, and agents. In the end, this may be a good book to give teens struggling with body image pressures (read: pretty much every teen). Hayley's journey to become a person living in her "perfect house of me" is both charming -- and inspirational.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Hayley's criticisms of her L.A. hometown. Not only are the people around her obsessed with their bodies, but they also often choose unhealthy convenience foods -- and drive too much. Ask your kids: Do you find this to be true of where you live too? If so, can you think of any small steps that you could take as a family to become healthier -- inside and out?

  • Many coming-of-age stories start with an adventure in a foreign land. Can you think of others?  What is attractive about this premise? Is it easier to find new insights about yourself when you are away from home?

Book details

Author:Mary Hogan
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:March 25, 2008
Number of pages:224

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Kid, 11 years old June 14, 2011


I am in love with this book! I am 11 years old which might seem a bit young to read a book like this but it barely describes the inappropriate parts. I found this book at my local library and am planning on buying a copy of my own soon. The book is about a teenager having a hard time believing she is beautiful until she visits Umbria, Italy. She learns to change her whole view on herself and the way she sees things and meets a boy whom she falls in love with. I highly recommend this book. Buy it!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much sex
Kid, 12 years old February 8, 2009

Loved it!

I loved this book! The message, the writing skills and the characters are heart warming and draw you in. I recommend reading this for anyone twelve or up with certain acceptances because very briefly and not at all in an vulgar way the main character makes love to her summer boyfriend, it is not described except for the kissing but a couple of twelve year olds may find it non appropriate. The book was very very good and I'd recommend it to everyone fourteen and up.
Kid, 12 years old October 10, 2010


I read this book and I LIVE IT!! Best book in the WHOLE WORLD!!! Plus im only 11 yrs old!!!
What other families should know
Great role models


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