All About Vee: A Novel
C. Leigh Purtill
Reviewed by Rachael Stein (age 15) for Reader Views (9/08)
Veronica May is big in many ways, the most insignificant being clothing size. She’s got a big heart, especially when it comes to her father and fellow Vees, big talent as a theater actress, and, most noticeably, a big attitude. Deep down, Big Vee knows she can go so much further than just starring in community theater productions in Chester, Arizona. It only takes a nudge from her father’s decision to remarry and the loss of her job for Vee to make up her mind. Vee, sure she’s destined for greater things, heads off to join her old friend Little Vee, now called Reed and also an aspiring actress in Hollywood, California. LA can bring out the best and worst in people, so how will it change Big Vee? Can this big girl survive, or will she become a slave to the promise of Hollywood stardom?
“All About Vee” was much funnier, enjoyable, and authentic than I ever imagined. The plot starts out a bit slow and awkwardly, but things get much more interesting as soon as Vee moves to LA and encounters various dramas. I felt Leigh’s portrayal of the challenges in living in such a judgmental and trying society that is Hollywood, remarkably accurate and believable, and this in turn lent credibility to Vee’s many difficulties caused by being larger than the acceptable size in the entertainment industry.
Towards the beginning of the novel, I got the sense that Big Vee was rather self-centered, which initially made me reluctant to continue reading. However, encountering Hollywood seemed to being out Vee’s good side, and she grew on me (not literally though!). Vee’s insecurity over her image, as well as family and friendship issues, were easy to relate to, and this only increased my sympathy towards here. I felt Vee’s character was wonderfully developed, but I can’t say the same for any of the other characters, especially Vee’s boss Philip and her soon-to-be-stepmother May. These minor characters seemed to lack personality at times, and I didn’t like them as I did Vee.
I found it refreshing that “All About Vee” did not focus solely upon physical body image but also incorporated family and friendship. I especially liked Vee’s connection to her dead mother through letters her mother wrote. I did have a slight issue with repetitiveness, especially on the subject of food. There were several straight pages listing what Vee liked to eat each day of the week that I found awkward at best. This isn’t much of a problem however, as it fades into the background as Vee’s confidence increases.
Overall, “All About Vee” was better than I expected but it wasn’t completely amazing. There’s a lot going on in this novel, but it works well in this story. “All About Vee” by C. Leigh Purtill appeals particularly to teen girls, though I think anyone with two x-chromosomes can enjoy this story.