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Hole in the Middle

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How do you know who you are when part of you is missing?

Morgan Stone was born with a hole in her middle: perfectly smooth patch of nothing where a something should be. After seventeen years of fear and shame, doctors and nurses, "peculiar" not "perfect," she has had enough of hiding.

Feisty, feminist and downright different, Hole in the Middle is the story of what happens when a girl who is anything but normal confronts a world obsessed with body image and celebrity.

368 pages, Paperback

First published July 5, 2017

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About the author

Kendra Fortmeyer

12 books90 followers
Kendra Fortmeyer grew up in the lush woods of North Carolina, surrounded by piles of books. She got the idea for her magical realist YA debut novel, HOLE IN THE MIDDLE, after a mediocre date, and also after her left lung unexpectedly collapsed. On a related note, she would like you to know that your body is spectacular and if anyone tells you otherwise, you may kick them in the teeth. Future mermaid, aspiring feminist folk hero, perpetual magical realist. Currently feeling all of the feels, and believing in you.

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5 stars
143 (27%)
4 stars
165 (31%)
3 stars
145 (27%)
2 stars
55 (10%)
1 star
15 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 115 reviews
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,050 followers
May 23, 2020
A unique YA debut about a girl coming to terms with her hole in her middle, a literal hole that is, an insanely out of this world concept in my opinion. Morgan is the Hole Girl and funnily, there is another character in the person of Lump Boy, Howie who might just be the possible source of cure for the hole. That's quite hilarious, don't you think?

I just had a little problem as the story moved forward. Down the middle, it became a bit slow and repetitive. I was a bit frustrated with a lot of Morgan's choices and actions and I wasn't completely impressed with how the story ended. But generally, the writing is witty, science-y, and arty.  It also talks about self-love and being comfortable in your own skin both literally and figuratively.
Profile Image for Bee.
430 reviews859 followers
May 3, 2020
A delightful, witty, contemporary with rich characters and a beautiful message. I adored 'Hole in the Middle', it was refreshing and a reminded me what excellent writing sounds like!
Profile Image for Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura).
501 reviews712 followers
January 5, 2021

Thank you Soho Teen for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
ARC given through The Nerd Daily.

“It’s weird how much time you spent hiding, when all you really wanted was to be seen.”

I really wish I hadn’t started this book at the wrong time. I had a few things going on a few months ago, and I’m going to try and write the best review I possibly can.

Hole in the Middle caught my interest the moment I read the synopsis. It just seemed like a story that was going to be uplifting, and so I requested it. I haven’t read many contemporary books and so it took a while for me to get into it. The beginning was slow but I have some important things to discuss, and that Isn’t one of them.

Kendra Fortmeyer really weaved a story of self acceptance. The book might have been a little slow for me. That’s the truth. But I feel the need to thank the author with all my heart for writing a story like this. If there’s something this book taught me, it’s that we all have our own hole. It might not be in our middle like Morgan’s, but we all have one somewhere. Physical or otherwise.

I was really intrigued to see where the story was going. I wanted to know all the ways that Morgan was going to deal with people’s criticism and mean comments. A story about body image, self love and friendship. Caroline proved to be quite a wonderful best friend. Always spreading the positivity and embracing and loving herself entirely. Morgan battled a lot throughout this book. Between feeling defeated and getting back up and showing the world who she truly is. Howie was one of those really sweet characters who always accept people and are always giving second chances. Morgan’s mom was my least favorite character in the book. We got to know a little bit about why she is the way she is, and I guess we’ll have to settle for that. There were also plenty of funny moments which I especially liked. The story is incredibly different from most contemporary books that you see on bookstore shelves. I feel like by the end of this read everyone will have found a way to relate to the main idea of the book. It sent a positive message to me, and I hope it’ll send a positive one to other readers too.

In a way I’m satisfied with the way the book ended. I felt a strange feeling of happiness. Regardless of how I felt in the beginning I would still recommend this book. The story is just too lovely to miss out on.

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Profile Image for Amanda Searcy.
Author 2 books80 followers
July 21, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. It has so many interesting things to say about body image, fame, and identity. The writing is gorgeous, and I loved going on this ride with Morgan!
Profile Image for Laura Jean.
1,014 reviews14 followers
January 11, 2019

This book really resonated with me. As a woman with a very visible disability (One of my eyes is obviously smaller than the other. It never developed properly. It has a silver sheen on the cornea and it follows my dominant eye around like an annoying socially awkward younger sibling) the protagonist's issues with her "medical anomaly" were familiar and at the same time very different. I too eventually had to learn to accept my situation, but since in my case it was as clear as the eye on my face, I think I was forced to deal and accept it sooner. There was no "coming out" for me.

However, other experiences were similar. The medical community found me fascinating. I have a very vivid memory of my Opthalmologist, having dilated my "good" eye, shining a bright light into it, and asking a medical student: "And what are these here?" And she didn't know. I KNEW. I wanted to shout out the answer because I'm being TORTURED here while she's hemming and hawing over the answer. No Dr. Moores in my history, but I could totally see it.

I also understood the morbid curiosity of the common people. People feel the need to make unsolicited comments about how I look: "Oh you'd look so much better with a glass eye" and how I do things: "You should get a guide dog" to "You should get lasik" to "You need glasses" when they know nothing about me or ophthalmology.

I also really liked how the author chose to deal Morgan's "hole" and Howie's "lump". It just screams "sex". So that's in the back of your mind when "merging" is discussed and when they do "merge", and the author uses that and it works well. Later, when they do actually have sex, it's completely different...and also well done.

Disabilities and abnormalities aside: I also really enjoyed how Morgan grew emotionally during the course of the book. She changed from an emotionally stunted girl, who resented her best friend's relationship with her boyfriend because she felt that it threatened her friendship to a flawed but more aware woman who could see and apologize for her weaknesses and past mistakes.

I also really liked the word play with the words "hole" and "whole" as well as Morgan's nom de plume, MissAbyss.

Profile Image for Chazley.
142 reviews20 followers
February 22, 2019
I adored this book. It does everything it sets out to do -- growing real characters out of a surreal situation without becoming overly metaphoric or sappy. Morgan Stone's fluctuating insecurity about her body is painfully realistic, which makes the moments when she accepts (and even celebrates) herself even more poignant. The humor is always spot-on and often unexpected (I laughed all the way through Morgan's discovery of the fan fiction about her and Howie). I highly recommend this book, especially to readers who appreciate the slightly weird.
1 review11 followers
July 6, 2017
if you only read one book ever again in your life, make it this one
Profile Image for Emily Cataneo.
Author 23 books23 followers
June 27, 2017
Kendra Fortmeyer's glorious debut novel is an insightful, entertaining, beautifully written, and incisive examination of teenagers and their often-complex relationships with their bodies. The book tells the story of 17-year-old Morgan Stone, who was born with a hole through the middle of her stomach. She's spent her whole life hiding it from everyone but her mother, her best friend, and doctors, but her last year of high school, she decides she's had enough, and comes out to the world. The story that follows deals with Internet culture; our media world's obsession with girls' bodies and stories; friendship; romance; and family relationships--but the most important story in this book is the one of Morgan's evolving relationship with herself and her identity. Morgan is funny and tragic and complicated; sometimes I want to hug her, sometimes I want to yell at her, sometimes I want to do both. In other words, she's utterly relatable, and Fortmeyer's brisk, snappy prose and talent for incisive description and punchy quips makes Morgan's thoughts and feelings all the more sympathetic. This book should be required reading for all teenagers and for anyone who's ever felt embarrassed about or unsure of their appearance or their body. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Meredith Thompson.
21 reviews16 followers
July 15, 2018
UPDATE 1: I hated Morgan and almost everything she did. This book was so meh for me I didn't even want to get past the 20% mark.

Review to come

UPDATE 2: Morgan Stone was born with a hole in her middle. A perfect, smooth, sealed, fist-shaped hole near her belly button that no one but her mom, best friend Caro, and doctor know about. After seventeen years of hiding it from the world, Morgan has decided it's time to show the world her secret.
But not everyone takes it the right way. The internet blows up with rude and sexual comments to Morgan, and all she wants is for her life to go back to her normal.
One day, a new doctor and boy come into her life with a cure, but could he also be her destiny? What happens when someone is your perfect match in every way? Is being whole really worth what it's always seemed to be?

I was given an ARC of this book through Edelweiss + and the publishers. Thank you so much for letting me review this for an honest review.

Alright y'all, this book was not good. I was scrolling through Goodreads after I read it to see what others thought of it, and I was shocked by the vast amount of 5 star reads. Did we read the same book? Because this one was not good.
First of all, the plot was super predictable, which lead to it being boring, it was really slow, and a LOT could have been stopped had Morgan not been a freaking idiot. Of course going in a knew it was going to be a love story, but the love interest isn't introduced until 30% through the book. The first portion was Morgan regretting everything she'd ever done, BUT THEN GOING OUT TO GO DO IT SOME MORE?? It really doesn't make sense to me and I was enraged when I read it.
So, Morgan, a big 'ol bitch is what she is. Up until the 80% mark she really didn't care about what anyone else thought or cared about. And I'm not even joking about that. For 80% of this book I had to read about this mean person doing things over and over that she kept regretting because she has shit for coping skills.
And Howie, who started as the love of my life and a sweet little angel, turned into the biggest douche of them all. Even Chad, who did some messed up things, had a better growth story than Howie. He went from this super sweet and super caring dude into a child that had to pout his way into getting Morgan to do something for him. I just, wow. He was interested in family, loved them and spent all the time outside of the hospital with them, but he acted more like a child than his 9 year old siblings who showed Morgan their chewed up food.
There were two, maybe three amazing scenes that kept me from dnf-ing this book. You'll know them when you read it because it's literally the only happiness that comes from this book. The writing was okay, the plot made me cringe, and the characters made me want to put several bullets into their brains.
Normally I say I'll be doing a full review for a book, but if I start on this one, I'll never stop ranting about these stupid ass characters, and a plot that was sub par.
If this book does interest you and my opinions don't waver yours, the book is being released on September 4, 2018. Again, thank you Edelweiss + and the publishers for letting me review this book for an honest opinion.
Profile Image for Becca.
100 reviews
March 9, 2017
This is a stunning debut novel. It combines gorgeous, whip-smart writing; interesting explorations into themes of identity, belonging and otherness, feminism, friendship and love; and a completely original, unpredictable story. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Natalka Burian.
Author 4 books72 followers
May 28, 2017
I loved this book - it was so moving and beautiful. The protagonist, Morgan, brings us into her strange and evolving world with grace and humor. She's such a compelling character that it's hard to leave her story. This is one of those books that you'll stay up way too late reading.
Profile Image for Gretchen Alice.
1,028 reviews89 followers
August 8, 2017
If you read this deeply striking novel from Kendra Fortmeyer*, it will challenge your notions of body acceptance, make you wonder at the attention we give strangers on the internet, and also make you laugh a hole lot. (That typo is on purpose. I am a terrible person.) Morgan Stone's tiny little secret is about the size of a piece of fruit. She has a hole in her torso that has baffled doctors for many years. Her dad left because of it and her famous workout mom has encouraged Morgan to keep it under wraps.
Keeping the hole a secret isn't a logistically difficult thing, but Morgan starts to strain under the weight of it, oddly enough. When the hole is revealed, it invites the usual media abuse, but it also brings with it a potential cure. I loved watching Morgan figure out how to react and respond to her new life. Her support system consists of her one good friend (who is fantastic) and a boy who understands what she's going through more than anyone else.
Kendra's writing is dreamy and angry and will make you feel all the things. And I'm still laughing over certain exchanges, like...
'You look like hell,' she says.
'Yeah, I just threw up.'
'No, I mean generally,' she says. 'You look like George Romero and Tim Burton had a baby, and it's directing your life.'
Hole in the Middle is currently available in the UK and it's definitely worth the overseas purchase or you could probably bug your local library for it. It's also getting a stateside release next year, so keep an eye out for it. You'll be glad you did.

*Full disclosure: Kendra's a friend of mine and she's basically the coolest. For a glance into her work, check out Mermaids at the End of the Universe. Kendra and I also recently compiled our favorite kickass girl reads for The Rumpus and you should totally check it out .
Profile Image for Tabitha Blankenbiller.
Author 4 books46 followers
November 29, 2017
Kendra Fortmeyer’s “Hole in the Middle” is love-at-first-sight with an engaging, unblinking voice that echoes the sensitive teenager that curls up and continues to live inside all of us. She weaves a fantastical story of a girl born with a curious defect—a hole right through her middle—into a relatable story of the horrors and curiosities of growing up without knowing who you are or what you’re meant to become, and in the process reinvents the coming-of-age novel for a post-millennial audience that probably thinks they’ve heard everything. The dialogue between characters is hilarious and effortless, and reminds me of the running jokes and dramas I lived for in high school. I’m just floored by Fortmeyer’s ability to sound as authentic as a real young woman, and write with the power, authority, and strength of an ancient sage. “Hole in the Middle” is a brilliant meeting of Aimee Bender-style magical realism with contemporary YA—“Geek Love” for 2017. The tenderness and protectiveness I felt for Morgan from the first sentences was instinctual, as one of the most terrifying things for a young woman is a conspicuous vulnerability. I’m looking forward to pressing this book into the hands of friends for years to come, and I can’t wait to read the next innovative novel Fortmeyer brings us!
Profile Image for Kelly Garrett.
Author 3 books54 followers
July 6, 2017
Hole In The Middle is such a lovely novel. Bit wacky, whole-heartedly feminist, and a great exploration of identity.
Profile Image for Gina Victoria.
78 reviews6 followers
March 16, 2022
I don't... really /get/ this book. I think that it's trying to be hopeful, but I don't see it that way. Plus the science in this book- the medical stuff, the testing, etc -was not believable. There were some loose ends that just weren't tied up in a satisfacting way. I also thought the romance was just kind of pushed on these characters, I didn't really believe that they actually liked each other. Plus the whole "freak show" plot was kind of insensitive and unnecessary. I'm not physically disabled, so I can't truly speak on the rep but it just felt... icky... for lack of a better word. 3/4 of the way in, I just wanted it to end. I also kept kind of rewriting it in my head as I was reading which... is not a good sign. Overall, would not recommend.
2 reviews3 followers
July 6, 2017
Hole in the Middle is the perfect YA read—Fortmeyer combines snappy storytelling with gorgeous writing, so that I found myself torn between turning the pages as fast as I could and slowing down to savor each sentence. Morgan is a perfectly imperfect protagonist, surrounded by a rich and appealing cast of strong female characters. And of course, there's a boy, a delightful, surprising, challenging boy who kept me on my toes until the final chapter! Throughout, we get humor, wit, and fast-paced dialogue—but there's heartache here too, as well as fear, uncertainty, and loneliness. Fortmeyer explores issues of identity, feminism, and the body with nuance and compassion, and what results is a great read for young adults and adults alike!
Profile Image for Bea Turvey.
Author 4 books8 followers
July 3, 2017
Mirrors - that is the word to describe this book. Not literal mirrors, but Morgan, our 'holey' heroine has a life and personality that is missing an awful lot. I shan't go into too many details (or about the other mirror that reflects a life that is far fuller) about the mirror(s) as you will notice them for yourself, I'm sure.

I was confused at the beginning because this is a schoolgirl who lives in a flat with her best friend - their parents let them. We aren't told too much about this.

I didn't like Morgan; not her attitude to life, her behaviour to her friend, her hypocritical stance with Todd (who's the judge there?), her overflowing pessimism and her sudden, reckless, uncalled for 'exposure', the ramifications of which see her completely unravelling. She made me want to shake her. She's rude, obnoxious and unrepentantly selfish with a self-entitled viewpoint on everything. The only time I agreed with her behaviour was regarding the second doctor, who needed to be taken to task.
I almost gave up halfway through because I really didn't like Morgan (see above) and couldn't give a cr** about her. Why her best friend stood by her is a mystery to me.
But then came Howie. Her opposite in every way.

The three stars are for Howie. He was Morgan's (and the book's) saving grace.
Profile Image for Wray Bowling.
2 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2017
I am not supposed to say much about the early draft that I was able to read, but I will say that Kendra nailed a good flow, wrote great jokes, and used sentence structures that made me smile. I'm a hard sell to read much of anything, but Hole in the Middle is also just a spectacular concept. I'm looking forward to reading the final version, and you should too.
Profile Image for Meg E..
Author 3 books8 followers
September 14, 2018
A wonderfully surprising YA tale with references I actually understood: Destiny's Children!
Profile Image for Rach (pagesofpiper).
589 reviews36 followers
May 19, 2019
Not the book I thought it was, but still really enjoyed it.

I thought this book was going to be about body positivity and the impact social media has on a person and their opinions about their bodies. It only touched on that very briefly. The story turned more medical and when a boy with an almost identical deformity comes into the story, I rolled my eyes. However, it became a loving relationship with respect and honesty and I really enjoyed reading it.

I liked different elements too of how she confronted her abuser, the friendship between herself and her best friend (having recently had a discussion about female friendships in books with one of my close friends and trying to find female friendships in the books I own and struggled!) I really appreciated that a lot more.

I struggled with some aspects, two seventeen year olds renting their own flat, her not going back to school, her relationship with her mother, Howie's name. But I think these might be a culture difference :)
Profile Image for Ruth.
844 reviews11 followers
July 9, 2017
This is a really great YA novel that is, throughout, both funny & serious. Morgan is a girl who was born with a hole in her middle - you can literally see through her body to the other side of the room. Her parents tried to keep it a secret, and her father left when he could no longer cope with her imperfect body. So Morgan is damaged when we meet her, in more ways than one, and the book is a brilliant exploration of the sense of self, body loathing/body acceptance, familial relationships, friendships and more.

I didn't always like Morgan, but I felt that for the most part I understood her. I certainly found myself caught up in her story, and Howie's character, and their developing friendship, is brilliant.

I could have done without the few sexual moments, but only because they felt a little heavy handed to me, and I think the book didn't need them. I was gripped throughout, and moved. Really enjoyed it!

With thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
1 review5 followers
July 27, 2017
Speaking for myself, this Old Adult fell so deeply into the touching and relatable story, I forgot I wasn't YA anymore. Highly recommend this work for anyone who's ever felt different a day in their lives, which is to say, literally everyone. Young or old, we all have so much to learn about embracing what makes us each unique and loving every bit of our selves. We could also learn to have a lot more fun. This book helps on both counts.
Profile Image for Heather Stewart.
1,039 reviews27 followers
September 4, 2018
2.5 stars
Morgan Stone is born with a hole in the middle of her body – the size of a fist. Even more far-fetched for me, she is a senior in high school who shares her own apartment with her best friend – also a senior. This is for no apparent reason except her mom is rich and the author needed less parental supervision of Morgan. Of course, they have fake ID’s and it’s at the local night club where Morgan decides to show off her hole for the first time. This starts an internet sensation and news reporter frenzy. She eventually meets Howie, who has a lump the exact size and location as Morgan’s hole. Will they be able to cure each other? Even though this book was well-written and had a unique story line, it was too unbelievable and predictable for me.
Profile Image for Jodie "Bookish"  Cook.
1,717 reviews3 followers
December 28, 2018
Hole in the Middle is a truly feminist look at celebrities and body image. Confronting with a girl who is anything but normal the world views her as something to be stared at but when she meets her perfect match she is confronted with the idea of if he really can make her whole or is that something she can only do for herself.
Profile Image for Books Girl Marina.
108 reviews1 follower
January 8, 2021
Me regalaron este libro en un amigo invisible por una persona que apenas me conocía y estudió detalladamente mis gustos literarios. Fue una sorpresa para mi que me hubiesen regalado algo tan personal como un libro iba sin expectativa ninguna y me sorprendió gratamente, me atrapó desde el primer momento y me lo devoré en una tarde.
Una historia de quererse a uno mismo a pesar de nuestros defectos (que es para mi lo que ha sido la esencia del libro).
Profile Image for Meg Eden.
Author 17 books68 followers
August 5, 2017
Beautiful, strong writing! As a magical realism addict, I had to read this book. The real and the surreal are seamed together perfectly. Morgan's hole is such a powerful reminder of how we all question our bodies. The way the world (especially the internet) responds to her hole is too real. A thrilling read I'd absolutely recommend!
356 reviews2 followers
Want to read
July 1, 2017
thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK Atom and netgalley for an ARC
'Dazzling!' Kelly Link

Feisty, feminist and downright different, Hole in the Middle is the story of what happens when a girl who is anything but 'normal' confronts a world obsessed with body image and celebrity.

Twitter kendraffe
Future mermaid, aspiring feminist superhero, perpetual magical realist. Life is too short for hate-reading.
Profile Image for Ruth Silva.
1 review2 followers
August 24, 2017
A unique story concept with so much meaning behind it....I love it! The writing was brilliant, and the story was inspiring. This book will make you smile and possibly gasp out loud as I did.
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