Quercus Books 30th May 2019
Jana Novak is tall, gangly and sick to death of comments about her androgynous looks – until she’s unexpectedly scouted as a model and catapulted to superstardom.
But the fashion industry is as grimy as it is glamourous: there are predators at every turn.
Jana is an ordinary girl from a south London estate, lifted to unimaginable heights with unimaginable lows.
Because the further you rise, the more devastating your fall…
A rags to riches story with a difference. Meat Market was inspired by Juno’s experiences working on the fringes of the fashion industry as a journalist and occasional model. Written before the Weinstein scandal broke and following two years of research with access to models, editors and agents, the ‘glamourous’ world of fashion became her landscape. Seduced by an air-brushed world of perfect, Juno realised there was something wrong with the picture; that exploitation of young girls is still evident, and that fashion and beauty needs to be ‘part of a much bigger feminist conversation’.
First a huge thanks to Ellen at Ed PR for sending me a copy of this book.
My first Juno Dawson and a rare venture into YA fiction. I’ll be honest though, this book appealed to me, I am fascinated in the world of celebrity and interested in the darker side of this life that we rarely catch a glimpse of. And I loved it. The main character, Jana is a curious mix of cool and awkward trying to balance her new found fame with her college friends and home life.
At just 16 she is spotted by a modelling scout, signed by an agency and marketed as the ‘next big thing’. From here the author very quickly moves into the darker side of this industry. Small but significant things such as not having privacy to get changed and unwelcome touching are noted as the norm. Drugs and alcohol feature and the overwhelming loneliness is stark. But what comes is unfortunately now an all too familiar story, told exceptionally well and reading as very authentic. Jana’s story is not a happy one but I suspect that it is not unusual.
Told in the first person voice of Jana, we experience her story first hand. She felt young and I strongly empathised with this character as well as feeling very concerned for her at times. The dialogue is ‘young’ but accessible to all I would say. This was a very quick read for me despite being 400 pages. I found it hard to put down. Reading YA was a ‘breath of fresh air for me’, with clear writing and easy to understand concepts the book was not challenging as a read despite its very series theme. I would definitely recommend this to a broad audience.
Definitely a story of female empowerment, all too accurately told, reflecting the media assault that follows when women speak out against powerful men. Really highlighting the other side of the modelling industry and the entertainment industry in general, this is an important read and serves to highlight all is not as it seems on the glossy glamour pages of the magazines we buy.
About the Author
Juno Dawson is the multi award-winning author of 11 books, including the best-selling CLEAN and her recent adult memoir, The Gender Games. Dawson is a regular contributor to Attitude, GT, Glamour and Guardian and has contributed to news items concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education on BBC Woman’s Hour, Front Row, This Morning and Newsnight. A School Role Model for Stonewall, Dawson also works with the charity First Story to visit schools serving low income communities. Dawson grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. She later turned her talent to journalism, interviewing luminaries such as Steps and Atomic Kitten before writing a weekly serial n a Brighton newspaper. She writes full time and lives in Brighton.