Book review: Look at Me by Jennifer Egan

Look at Me by Jennifer EganLook at Me: What it is about

From the publishers: “Reconstructive facial surgery after a car crash so alters Manhattan model Charlotte that, within the fashion world, where one’s look is oneself, she is unrecognizable. Seeking a new image, Charlotte engages in an Internet experiment that may both save and damn her. As her story eerily converges with that of a plain, unhappy teenager – another Charlotte – it raises tantalizing questions about identity and reality in contemporary Western culture.

Look at Me: What I thought

This novel is all about identity: a model who had a face reconstruction after an accident, a man who takes a completely new identity after moving to the US, a school girl who wants to change her life, a man who was very popular in his youth but is now suffering with psychological issues.

The story is seen from the viewpoints of all these people, but I really only enjoyed the story about the model. When your job is all about your face, what happens when your face is different from what it was? It was interesting to follow Charlotte around trying to find work. Eventually, she signs a contract giving away her whole identity (in a sense), in a unique on-line venture.

The rest of the characters seemed less important, somehow. They all had a certain connection with Charlotte and I eagerly waited for these people to meet up (again) with her. And waited.

The man with the new identity was indeed quite a different man at the beginning of the story than at the end of it (which is really his story from before the book starts). Too much so. I didn’t see the connection very well. The man at the end has a certain purpose, but this did not show at all (to me, at least) in the earlier parts about this man. What was he doing, just living a quiet life? Or had he done already what he had been wanting to do? I don’t think he did. His part in the book was the weakest and least interesting, while it could have been quite impactful.

I loved all the identity-connected issues but didn’t enjoy all of this novel, unfortunately. A novel just about Charlotte would have been fine (and a little thinner, too).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (okay to good)

Number of pages: 416

First published: 2001

I got this: bought it in a book shop

Genre: Contemporary fiction



About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

10 Responses to Book review: Look at Me by Jennifer Egan

  1. 416 pages would be a bit daunting for me.

    Glad the book kept your interest even though you indicate it wasn’t a favorite with a 3.5 as the rating. Nice review.

    Have a great rest of your day/evening.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

  2. Catherine says:

    I think as you said the part about the identity and the impact it can have on someone’s life is very interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t really like the way it was treated in the book and didn’t enjoy the book either. I read it a few years ago so I can’t say more about it but only remember not enjoying it. Nevermind! 😉

  3. Isi says:

    I think the subject of the book is very interesting – I can’t understand why people want plastic surgery for their faces (I mean, by choice), because it has to be terrible when you look at yourself in the mirror and it’s not “you”!
    So bad you didn’t like all the stories of the characters.

    • Leeswammes says:

      The subject is very interesting, Isi. I think especially people who are around other people that have their faces ‘done’, want theirs doing, too. Because it’s normal in their circle. For me, it’s not something I would consider.

  4. Athira says:

    I still need to read the other Jennifer Egan book, but this one sounds very interesting too. I find identity a very interesting topic to read about, so this book is going on my TBR.

  5. I remember liking this one, better than some of her other books, (Goon Squad, The Keep), but it has been a long time since I read it…definitely pre-blogging and pre-reviewing. Now I want to reread it, to see how I feel now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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