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Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle Body Positivity Blog Series - Book Review, Positivity Post & Giveaway

About Julie Hammerle
Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write "for real," she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her music playlist reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.


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Book review

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Review by Suze

Kiki has managed to secure a place at a prestigious music camp. She's got something to prove and going is already a big step. She wants to show people what she's capable of. She's a geeky girl who loves watching television shows. She tweets about them and has a lot of online friends and followers. Unfortunately Kiki doesn't think she's anything special and she's socially awkward. She doesn't think she's slim enough or pretty enough to be noticed. She has no idea how to interact with strangers and that part of the camp makes her more nervous than the music.

Only a few students will have the chance to win a scholarship to go to Krause. The university has a fantastic music program and Kiki's specialty is singing opera. Even though the beginning is hard Kiki soon finds out that she does have the ability to make friends and to have a social life. The competition at the music program is fierce and students are being played against one another. The rules are strict and Kiki has difficulties following them. She isn't allowed to do what she loves best, late night jam sessions in the basement of the dorm. She wants to be good and to win that scholarship, because her future depends on it. Will the summer bring her something memorable and will her hard work be rewarded?

Kiki is a very talented girl. She can sing beautifully and effortlessly and she's good at writing music and playing the piano. Music is who she is. She's smart and she's driven. At the camp she meets people who are like her. Her fellow students also excel in what they do and they have to fight for the same thing Kiki wants, a scholarship. Even though there's rivalry friendships blossom and I loved seeing Kiki come out of her shell. Julie Hammerle writes about her insecurities in an honest and heartbreaking way. I felt really bad for Kiki at times because her self esteem is so low. She's wonderful and pretty instead of worthless. It hurt to read what she thought about herself and I think that's exactly what the author was aiming for. Kiki isn't the only teenager who thinks about herself in that way and Julie Hammerle wrote about this issue in a sensitive way while the message was clear at the same time.

I loved reading about the program, the students and most of all the music. I could almost hear Kiki sing and loved the vivid descriptions. It's fabulous to visualize a story and to be able to almost hear it at the same time. I really enjoyed that. Kiki has never been lucky in love, but at the camp she finally meets a few guys who are like her. She struggles sometimes, but she's also unbelievably strong. She's great at standing up for herself. I liked the ending of the story. It's fitting, it's creative and the author makes a strong statement. I really liked this book. I'm a big fan of books about music and The Sound of Us is definitely an amazing one.


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Body positivity

By Suze

Kiki, the main character of The Sound of Us has self esteem issues. She doesn't like the way she looks and thinks she's worthless because she has a few ounces of extra fat and she's geeky. I sometimes had tears in my eyes when I read about her struggles. When I was a high school student I didn't feel good about myself either. Like Kiki I didn't have friends who were particularly positive about me and I always felt like I wasn't good enough. I have an hourglass shaped body and I have curves. Apparently that wasn't what I should have had and I got plenty of nasty remarks about it. Years later I found out that a lot of my fellow students actually liked my shape and figure and that apparently the girls all thought I had beautiful legs. I had no idea. The same goes for almost everyone, you often don't have a clue about what other people think and feel. They don't tell you what they talk about when you aren't there and I learned that what they say can also be positive instead of negative.

When I look at the photographs from my teenage years I'm always surprised. What I heard about my body back then is absolutely not what I see. My vision was wrong back then and I believed something about myself that made me unhappy and that made me insecure. I hope people who make those remarks realize what kind of damage they cause in someone else's life. If someone treats you like that it's probably out of jealousy. It's hard not to let those remarks get to you and it's easier to listen and agree. Only if you do that it could lead to serious long term (psychological) damage, missed chances and inferiority complexes. Don't give someone else the power over your self-esteem. Take a good look in the mirror and focus on what you love about yourself instead, because believe me there will be plenty.

Kiki also is a curvy girl. I think curves are lovely, just like any other body type. It's wonderful that people come in different shapes, sizes and colors. It's fantastic that there's variety and that each shape has its own advantages. Treasure your body and be nice to it. Don't wait until you're a size down before buying yourself some lovely clothes, do it now because the body shape you have is good enough. If you feel good, you will look good. Take care of your body and treat it with the respect it deserves.

My weight varies due to medical reasons and my body has changed many times over the past couple of years. That made me discover that each weight category has its own advantages. I came to love that it shows me so many different kinds of beauty. When I'm heavier I love my breasts, when I'm skinny I like my legs, when I'm in between I am happy with my curves, etc. I appreciate each shape and try to find clothes that are showing off the things I like best about myself. Wearing something nice will make you feel better, treat yourself every now and then. Buy pretty underwear and wear it for yourself for example or shave your legs for you instead of for someone else and dress up on a regular day because you feel like it.

Happiness doesn't start at a certain number on a scale. It comes from within. If you feel good about yourself it shows. When you are happy with yourself people will see it and they will react to it in a positive way. I discovered that being confident opens a lot of doors. Even though I don't always feel it, faking it brings a lot of new possibilities. Kiki becomes fierce and she dares to speak up. She's no longer someone's doormat and that brings her huge progress. I think leagues are nonsense, we're all equal and shouldn't be judged or categorized by our appearance. The painful truth is that if people are doing it to themselves others will do it to them as well and once they're in that nasty vicious circle it is hard to get out of it again. If you love something about someone else, tell them. Make sure they know what you like about them. If it would make you feel good to hear it, be generous and gift that feeling to someone else.

My advice is to enjoy what you've been given and to work with it. It's a waste to spend time worrying about what others think about your appearance while you could also have fun and be happy. You're never getting back the time you lost and by letting others spoil it for you, you lose something precious. Don't give anyone that kind of hold over you. Love yourself for who you are and others will follow.


One very lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.


Dubsmash Contest Grand Prize

1) A paperback copy of The Sound of Us by debut author Julie Hammerle
2) A box of Nutty Bars, which are prominently featured in the novel
3) A DVD of High School Musical, so you can watch the movie repeatedly to perfect your dubsmash abilities

How to enter the Dubsmash Contest? Create a dubsmash video on the Dubsmash app, the app, or upload it to your YouTube Channel of any song from Camp Rock, High School Musical, or Pitch Perfect.

Email in your video to between May 30, 2016 and June 29, 2016 @ 11: 59 pm EDT for the first, mandatory entry into the contest, and then add one of several other ways to enter via Rafflecopter to increase your odds of winning! While we welcome all videos, only US residents are able to win the Grand Prize.


  1. I have never been to a summer camp as a child but loved to go camping with friends and family after I had left school.

  2. I only went to summer camp once and it was only day camp. It was back when I was in the Girl Scouts. I remember being only one of the few girls there who would drink well water while everyone else drank from bottles of city water that the camp counselors had to bring in with them.

  3. I went to environmental summer camps as a kid and had a blast.

  4. A very I interesting review and post with lots of important facts. Firstly the book it sounds like an ideal book for my girls. Secondly the post on body shape. I love your positive attitude to body shape and the idea of treating yourself nicely. I am not very good at that. it's awful you were treated that way by malicious girls at school, teenagers and even adults can be mean.

  5. I went to a summer music camp one summer, and I enjoyed it tremendously, though we worked a lot on the music for our performance. The worst thing about it was the (university) cafeteria food.

  6. I've never been to summer camp (it's more of an American, rather than European thing) and I haven't a clue what dub smash is!

  7. You don't want me to sing, but if I had to I'd want to something fun like Bohemian Rhapsody.

  8. I love your post about Body positivity. You are so right about everything you are saying. I love you always and forever and you are the most gorgeous person I know inside and out! XOXO Anniek

  9. i wish when i was younger i had gone to summer camp, i never went tho :c it must be so cool, u make new friends and they must have a really cool and fun activities. but also summer camp is more of an american thing than european (and im from europe) and i dont know what a dub smash is.. but i would probably sing a disney song xD

  10. I've never been to summer camp before, but it looks like fun :)

  11. I have been to summer camp before! The most memorable parts of camp are the friendships you make.

  12. I'd definitely be in for Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen.

  13. I would sing Hollaback Girl by Stefani.

  14. I have never being at a summer camp, but it sound like a lot of fun!

  15. I went to Girl Scouts summer camp and it was fun!

  16. I've went to a week long church youth camp in the summer each year I was a teenager. It was all girls and so much fun! The activities were the best part.

  17. I went to Girl Scout Camp! I was always homesick, but still made great memories <3

  18. Not quite a summer camp, but an excursion during summer biology class in Uni. We went to Bamfield on the Pacific Ocean coastline. I took what should have been lovely pictures, except the film was faulty. And I had blooches all over my lovely memories.

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