The Look by Sophia Bennett Review

Posted August 9, 2013 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 15 Comments

The Look by Sophia Bennett
Published by Scholastic
Publish Date: March 1, 2013
336 Pages
Source: NetGalley
Find it here:  Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Can she be a supermodel and a super-sister? She finds her answer in just one look.

Two sisters, both beautiful in different ways: Fifteen-year-old Ted has got “The Look.” That’s what the scout for the modeling agency tells her, and she can’t believe her luck. But just as Ted’s jet-setting off on her new career, Ava is diagnosed with cancer. Can Ted be a supermodel and a super-sister? Or will she have to choose between family and fame? With their worlds turned upside down, the girls have to look past appearances, look deep inside, to figure out what really matters. -(summary from Goodreads) 

The Look by Sophia Bennett 

My Thoughts:  This is a book that I read based on the recommendations of two other bloggers that I trust completely. I loved the idea of The Look and I thought the story is a really good one. Even better, it’s one of those stories that has more than one layer to it – kind of like you think you’re getting one thing, but what you’re really getting is that thing and much more. 

The first thing you need to know is this:
Ted and Ava are sisters. Both are pretty. 
One is “prettier” than the other. 
Ted and Ava are out one day and Ted is approached by a modeling scout – he thinks she has “the look” and that she should pursue a modeling career. First of all, Ted can barely believe this because 1) she thinks her sister Ava is much more beautiful and she isn’t really that pretty at all and 2) there are tons of modeling scouts out there that run scams, so this is probably one of those cases, right? I mean, surely Ted isn’t pretty enough to be a model. No way. 

But after some research by both Ted and Ava (who just loves fashion and modeling and all that goes along with it), Ted realizes that the Modeling Agency on the card she received is, in fact, legitimate and that the guy that told her she had “the look” must have really, truly, actually meant it. So at the insistent prodding of Ava, they pursue this avenue for Ted. At first, it’s all in fun because – again – Ted doesn’t really think she has what it takes to be a model, but she soon finds out that WOW, SHE DOES! And she is swept up in the crazy storm of pictures and fashion and modeling lingo and famous people and magazines and all of that. 

What about Ava? Ava is so happy to be living vicariously thru Ted. She genuinely is because she is a good person, a good sister, a good friend to Ted. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
Another thing about Ava? 
She has cancer. 
Ted and the family had been noticing early on that Ava had been acting like she didn’t feel good, but they weren’t expecting the devastating news that they received when Ava visited the doctor. I mean, right there and then, their lives changed JUST LIKE THAT. And not just for Ava, but for Ted and their parents as well. Ava tried to maintain her cheerful disposition and attitude, but sometimes she just didn’t feel good and she was sick. Otherwise, she spent her time encouraging Ted and being fashionable and talking about/daydreaming about/completely loving her dreamy boyfriend, just like any other young girl would do. 

About Ava’s cancer? It was a large part of the story, yes. But it wasn’t the largest part of the story, so please don’t let it deter you from reading this book. 

Another thing about Ava’s cancer? Aside from everything Ted was doing – Ava’s sickness kind of made Ted feel awful, naturally. Awful that she couldn’t do more to help her sister. Awful that Ava was going thru terrible things and she was modeling, for goodness sakes. Awful that this bad thing happened to this wonderful person. 

The third thing you need to know is this:

Ted spends a lot of time thinking in this book. 

She also spends a lot of time doing. 

As I mentioned earlier, once Ted began the process of modeling – life became a whirlwind for her. She was constantly having to be here, go there, have pictures made, etc. She took it all in stride and learned so much from it – part of this is because it meant so much to Ava and brought Ava so much happiness. Ted’s modeling was something that she and Ava shared, even though that sounds kind of unusual, and Ted knew that. She also appreciated that she was able to make some extra money that her family needed at this critical time in their lives. 
While all of this modeling action is taking place, Ted is having lots of thoughts and it is nice to be able to get into her head and see what she’s thinking. She is never really sure she wants to be a model, first of all – remember she was approached? She never pursued this modeling-thing on her own; she did it at the nudging encouragement of her sister and for a while she kept it up because it made Ava happy and gave them something to talk about, something to share, something in common. Eventually she did begin to enjoy it some – but the more she immersed herself in it, she found that she liked the industry of modeling – the behind-the-scenes. Thru this sidetrack into modeling, she was able to find out that there are things that she enjoys doing, and she was able to figure out how to pursue them. This is something that I ABSOLUTELY LOVED about the book because it showed some character development and pursuit of goals/hobbies/dreams for our main character. I digress. 
She was also able to meet a few people, including this one guy. 

Okay so when I started The Look by Sophia Bennett, I read it and took it all in – but I had to take a few days to really sit and process how I felt about the story. Overall, I liked it. I think it’s a great book, but there are only one or two things that I wish were different. 

First of all, Ted and Ava as sisters are wonderful. I am a huge lover of sibling relationships in books – I will probably love them forever. Sisters that love each other as much as these two do just beg to be read. These are the types of girls that would do anything for one another, that feel one another’s burdens and desires and hopes and dreams, and they genuinely want the best for one another. They love each other and their relationship – and friendship – was written incredibly. I applaud Sophia Bennett for this, because I enjoyed how much I loved these two girls. 

Ted is a very interesting main character. It’s clear TO ME from the descriptions that the author provides that she certainly does have that model appearance, so I am not surprised at all every time some big-name modeling person makes a huge deal over her. The fact that Ted just doesn’t see “the look” when she looks at herself is something that I enjoyed about her – that she isn’t wrapped up so much in herself that she only sees her face, her body, her walk, what she eats, etc. Ted is a girl that wants to wear whatever she wants, she wants to eat what she wants, and she wants to wear her hair the way she likes it. In fact, her hair is a HUGE part of the book and part of the reason I liked her. And Ava – in the beginning, Ava has her own life and much of it is wrapped up in her boyfriend and friends. Once she receives her diagnosis, she clings to her family which is so nice to see. Watching those two girls become closer over something so horrifying as sickness made something positive out of something negative. 

It was interesting to read a book that took me inside the world of modeling – but not too terribly deep. I actually enjoyed what I was reading and even chuckled a few times. Modeling is just something that I don’t know much about (even though I love watching a few of the reality shows when I take time to watch TV – Make it work, people!). And though I’ve mentioned that this book has cancer in it, I wouldn’t call it a “cancer book” – BUT I will say that it does a wonderful job of showing what happens when a family member is diagnosed, the day-to-day emotions of the entire family, and how each person copes in their own way. Still, on top of all of the modeling and sickness, the thing that stuck out to me most of all is the sisters and their love for each other and their friendship. So good, you guys. 

I mentioned a guy, which means there is a fledgling of a romance. This guy is introduced early on in the book and I have to admit that I liked him right away AND I wondered if he would be a romantic interest for Ted. But as the book progressed, he would pop up here and there and not enough, in my opinion, to constitute any sort of real relationship. We watch Ted crush on him, struggle with whether or not he’s thinking of her, whether or not he even likes her after a few things he says, and then at the end there is finally some sort of build-up to a

I really like the cover for
this edition of The Look!

relationship. In my opinion – and this is just mine – this isn’t enough of a relationship to really occupy a story. Should it even be in here? I’m not sure. I really enjoyed this guy’s character – he was quirky, he brought something different to the story, and he really made Ted think about her actions and her life in general. SO…I think had he been more present in the story, I would’ve like it better. As it stands, I’m a bit disappointed that the romance was so far on the back burner. However, I think lots of readers will appreciate this because not everyone wants romance every time. 

The other thing that I wish was different in the story is the direction in which Ted took her modeling career. The summary asks the question “…will she have to choose between family and fame?” and I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. And also to be honest, I feel like I might be in the minority on this one. Speaking too much about it might give away spoilers, so I won’t go too far into details, but I will say that I think that people can do more than one thing and have more than one thing in life that is really important to them…as long as they have balance in their lives and moderate well. Ted is a bit wobbly with trying to manage her family and her modeling – AS ANYONE WOULD BE IN THE BEGINNING – and struggles to find a balance, and I’m not sure that she was ever given a chance to find that balance before she makes her decision one way or another. I would’ve loved to see more in this area because I kind of feel like the book just…stopped. I know this is vague but I don’t want to spoil it, but I’d love for you all to read it and let me know how you feel. 

The Look by Sophia Bennett is a book that will resonate with several types of people: people that enjoy YA contemporary with issues, people that enjoy contemporary without romance as a large theme, people that enjoy modeling and the world of fashion, people that enjoy books set in London, and especially people that love a great family dynamic and wonderful sibling relationships. This book is great for a lot of people and I liked it. I wish that it had been just a little longer so these two little details that I felt were lacking could’ve been developed a little more, but I would have no problem recommending this one to reading friends that enjoy the things that I’ve mentioned above. 


The Look will appeal to fans of:

YA Contemporary with Issues
Romance: Very slowly developing. No triangle. 
(The romance is barely even there, actually.)

Family/Sibling Relationships

Great Setting: London
The Look by Sophia Bennett
is currently available for purchase.


Have you read THE LOOK yet? 
Do you plan to? 

What are some other books 
with great sibling relationships? 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


15 responses to “The Look by Sophia Bennett Review

  1. +JMJ+

    I used to watch as many of the Top Model shows as I could find, so I think I'd really enjoy the parts of this book which relate to modeling. And I'm a huge Anglophile, so the London setting is a win! =)

    Thanks for the review!

    • I was surprised at exactly how much I enjoyed the modeling aspect of the book – I REALLY enjoyed that part because aside from seeing it on TV occasionally, I'm not sure that I've read anything like that before. It was probably my favorite thing about the book aside from the sisters. (:

  2. I'm so fascinated by the modeling world so to combine that with a real story about a family and a sister with cancer is very appealing. It brings a reality to all of the glamorous modeling stuff. I'm a sucker for both good sibling stories and LONDON so those are both winners for me. I don't think romance has to always be the main event, but it sounds like this guy was so good that you were longing for more of him, and I'm thinking that I will be too, since I adore romance in books. I think your comment that people shouldn't have to choose between their families and their careers (something they're passionate about) is a good one. I get that with her sister sick it might take Ted away from that, but you do want her to have a life too. Another lovely thoughtful review, friend!

    • This author did a great job of molding the two worlds together – the modeling and the family. The sibling story was so good it reminded me of you while I was reading it because I know that you love sister stories so much. And yes, London. The guy, I did want more from him in this particular book – I don't always need the romance to be front and center, and it doesn't have to be here either, but it would've MADE the story for me to have a little more with regard to him because it was this guy that influenced a lot of what Ted did and thought, etc. So some more development in that area would've been fine even if it added to the length of the book.

      In terms of the choosing between two things, there is a specific part of the book in which this plays a HUGE role – don't want to spoil, but it made me think a lot (thanks to you and the whole critically-thinking-while-reading thing that I'm learning!) and I think Ted and I differed in a few ways in her thoughts and actions in a few places – not that she made the wrong choice or anything, but my thought processes and stuff would've for sure been different. It just jumped out at me very strongly and I was like WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!! Would be great for discussion if you choose to read this one.

  3. You make some really interesting points about Ted's career and the choice to have that or her family. You are so right… I don't want to give spoilers, and she could have done both but I was ultimately okay with how things turned out.

    YES YES YES. I didn't know much about modeling either and I was so into the whole process. I had no idea how it would go. It was sort of like watching a mini reality show.

    The sister relationship is by far the most fabulous part of this book and I think Bennett really conquered a sensitive subject without making it melodramatic or "just another cancer book."

    Great review, Ash! I really appreciate you bringing up so many great observations. Makes me want to reread the book myself. xo

    • I think I was okay with how things turned out too – I love the path she ended up choosing! So neat how that worked out – but there was that one thing that she kind of didn't end up doing that I wish would've turned out differently…

      Agree about how the author captured the sisters and didn't make this a "cancer book" – not that there is anything wrong with those kinds of books, but it just made this one better.

  4. See, I don't read contemp but this one appeals to me. (Okay, part of me just really likes that first cover, I can't lie.) But cancer is such like a huge thing, that I can just imagine how hard it is for Ted to split her life between her sister and this new opportunity. I mean, that'd be a hard situation to deal with! And hey, I am HUGE about books in London right now since I'll be heading there and the fact that there is barely any romance here appeals to me… so yeah. I'm going to keep this one on my radar. Great review!

    • The London setting is really fun – I've really found that I enjoy London-set books over the past year or so. Ted does a pretty great job, particularly since the modeling isn't really HER idea to begin with. It bonds her with Ava, and I loved reading that. It's a pretty good contemp, I have to say. (:

  5. I completely agree on the choosing between family and fame point. The fact that Ted's existence supposedly dives into a dichotomy of modeling versus sisterhood bothered me as well, especially since Ava always seems to be truly happy for her sister. I understood Ted being worried that she isn't present enough in Ava's life during this hard time, but I also wish the approach hadn't been that she needed to choose between two things that could easily be balanced, her sister's reactions prove.

    But I second your more positive points as well, and I loved the way The Look's characters view cancer in a clever way and deal with their situation wittily. My favorite aspect of the book was the smart, funny voice and the darker humor with a hilarious twist that often makes light of the affliction, but not in a careless way. This novel reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars in that aspect, and I adored the characters for their ability to deal with their problems in a powerful manner.

  6. "My favorite aspect of the book was the smart, funny voice and the darker humor with a hilarious twist that often makes light of the affliction, but not in a careless way." –> YES. I think you're right in that this does seem a little like TFiOS – I hadn't thought of that. And I'm glad that others are seeing that Ted didn't necessarily have to choose between the two things that she loved/could've loved. I'd have loved to see a little more of that.

    This is a fantastic reply to what I was trying to say – I think you said it all better in fewer words!

  7. Hi!
    I'm a german blogger and i read the look now. i love it! i hope it will stay so exciting like it is, and sorry about my bad english 🙂
    i like your blog!

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