Book Review: ‘Hole in the Middle’ by Kendra Fortmeyer

Hole in the Middle

Hole in the Middle by Kendra Fortmeyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Hole in the Middle” by Kendra Fortmeyer focuses on a girl with a disability that doesn’t sound anatomically realistic nor does her teenage life come off as realistic, but the message of accepting yourself is a strong presence throughout the story.

Morgan is 16 and has an unexplainable hole in her abdomen. This has made her a famous medical oddity, especially when her mother is a diet-obsessed lifestyle guru. Because of her medical condition, Morgan feels like she stands out but not in a good way. Since her mother travels a lot, she gets an apartment with her best friend, Caro, which is one of the top non-relatable character aspects in this young adult novel. Then Morgan finds herself by slipping into a nightclub and convincing the bartender to give her drinks while she’s underage. At the club, she dances free with her top up, showing her hole. This makes her an overnight sensation. Again, unrealistic. As the news spreads, it turns out a boy about the same age has the opposite – a protrusion that would fit in Morgan’s hole! So Morgan and Howard become a medical experiment together with spending nights at the hospital to see if they could cure each other. While the world tries to figure out how to help Morgan and Howard, they try to figure out how to overcome the fears around their conditions and live life.

The writing style and its message is good, but the medical conditions didn’t make sense. It was hard to picture Morgan’s hole and Howie’s bump fitting into each other with the procedure getting confused. Maybe they’re real conditions, but the depictions of those conditions didn’t work here. Also, I don’t understand how you become famous lifting your shirt up at a nightclub either. And the underage drinking part never took off the way it should have because it’s illegal to be a minor receiving alcohol freely at a club. That was the real news story compared to Morgan’s hole.

YA works better when teens can see themselves in the characters, and this missed the mark a bit. If the author followed a more relatable medical condition like in the popular “Everything, Everything,” the story would’ve worked better including relatable characters (I doubt most teens are living in their own apartments nor their parents are leaving them unsupervised most of the time). Overall, I liked it, but there’s way better YA choices with similar themes.

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