Study Guide

Amy in A Little Less Girl

By Tess Oliver

Amy

Though we never get to meet Amy during the course of this book, Dani's memories of her, along with her diary entries and paintings, bring the real Amy to life for us in pretty bold colors. And since without Amy we pretty much don't have a story, she's definitely worth a closer look. So here goes. While she's dead in the book, she's totally alive in her diary, so we're going to talk about her in present tense. Long live Amy, you know?

Poor Little Amy

Amy's a girl who's known her share of tragedy. She doesn't have a relationship with her dad and her mom passes away when she's still in high school. Even though she lives close to her cousin, Dani, who also happens to be her best friend, Amy is forced to relocate to Raynesville with Grammie once her mom dies. This is not such great news for Amy.

In Raynesville, Amy finds she doesn't fit in too well. She's overweight and no one goes out of their way to make friends with her. She does have a couple of pals, but no one super significant. Her most important relationship is the fictional one she's invented in her head with super stud and part-time horseback riding model, Jake West.

See, Amy loves romance novels and is convinced that Jake is a real-life Mr. Darcy. She reads all about epic romances and imagines the same thing for herself, so she's crushed pretty badly when Jake rejects her and jokes to some of his friends that he "prefers a little less girl" (18.11). Ouch.

A New Amy

Eventually, Amy starts watching what she eats and exercising. She says it's because she doesn't want to wind up dead like her mom, but we suspect it's also because she wants to fit in a little better. And fit in she does. As soon as Amy starts to drop the pounds, she gets an invitation to hang out at the Bus from Alex. Maybe boys in Raynesville can only see girls if they weigh under a certain amount? It's weird. And a bummer.

Plus, Amy finds out pretty quickly that being thin and cute isn't all it's cracked up to be:

Why did no one warn me that being thin sucked? If this is what real life is then give me back my blubber suit and shove a romance novel in my chubby fingers. I'm going back to friends I can count on like cupcakes, mashed potatoes and chocolate shakes. (22.4)

These people aren't really her friends—if they were, they would have talked to her when she was heavier. Amy also gets attacked by some random person while playing the Game, and with that, she knows all she needs to know about this particular group: They're no fun.

Amazing Amy

Even though Amy has gone through a lot and feels invisible at school, inside she's a super witty and bubbly person. Dani loves reading her diary entries because it just makes Amy come to life so much. Check it ou:

Jake sightings, four. It was a veritable smorgasbord of Jake encounters. Naturally, I was exhausted by the end of it all what with having to slow down my heart rate and breathing after each one. Not to mention one was an encounter that solidified him in my mind as the hottest, greatest guy to ever walk the earth. Another day like today and I'll need to carry a paper bag to breathe into. (16.30)

Even though the police report says Amy committed suicide, Dani is right to suspect that Amy wasn't depressed enough to take her own life. As we read her diary along with Dani, it's easy to come to the same conclusion. Amy might have seemed shy and like no-big-deal at school, but in the pages of her diary and in her art we see her wit, confidence, and happiness with life shine through.

Speaking of Amy's art, she's an amazing painter. Dani was always envious of how talented her cousin was. Amy uses her art to expresses what she's feeling and, for the most part, what she creates is happy, light, and beautiful. Even Jake realizes how special Amy is after stumbling across her secret painting place.

The End for Amy

Amy's darkest moment comes when she starts spending more time with Mr. Dermott. Amy is easily drawn in by his romantic hero potential, plus she's just been totally disappointed by Jake West. Might Mr. Dermott turn out to be her knight in shining armor?

It's pretty interesting that, aside from Amy's initial description of Mr. Dermott in her diary, she doesn't write anything else about him or their relationship. Amy wrote about everything in her life, but when it came to Mr. Dermott, she just had nothing to say. Is that because the whole relationship made her feel bad? Manipulated even? Sure, the cool, sexy teacher was paying attention to little old Amy, but it seems like she knew the whole thing was bad news from the beginning.

That's probably why she decides to tell the school board about what Mr. Dermott has been doing. Amy isn't stupid, so she knows her teacher has crossed a line. Maybe she also suspects that he might target other girls like her. Whatever Amy's reasons, her bravery in being willing to come forward costs her her life. And with that, our book begins.

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