Thursday, September 27, 2012
Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner
Find your voice.
Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.
But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.
With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own. ~ Goodreads
The publishers from the Scholastic booth at BEA were very enthusiastic about this title and really talked it up. From their explanation and from the summary, I expected there to be a lot of inner monologue between the main character, Ever, and the sabotaging voice inside her head, Skinny. That's not something I typically enjoy so I'm happy to say that was not the case.
Ever is a 15 year girl that weighs over 300 pounds who struggles with her self image and of course from the judgment of the people around her. Her mom died and her father has since remarried bringing a new mother figure and step sisters into the picture. Her step mom and sisters are beautiful and Ever feels like she doesn’t belong. She misses her mom and uses food to comfort her instead.
In her head she hears "Skinny" who tells her what people are *really thinking*. For example Ever is a wonderful singer and wants to go for a spot in the drama club that would require her to sing in front of everyone but Skinny tells her:
"But who wants to see an elephant dancing around?"
Skinny stops Ever from moving forward or losing weight and from forming friendships. This is written very well and doesn't become a constant conversation between he two. Just a subtle reminder of what Ever perceives people's reactions to her to be.
Ever finally decides that she needs to make a big change and opts for gastric bypass surgery. I'm sure some readers are going to have a problem with this decision. As far as a novel exploring the surgery, it's a good one. Gastric bypass surgery is no picnic and it isn't portrayed as one. However, I also didn't think the story explored her other options enough. I was particularly stunned that the Dr. asked Ever how many calories are in a hamburger and when she answered the correct number, he used that as proof to her concerned father that she already understood dieting and her options. In my opinion she was 15 and should have taken time and counseling to explore every option even if it led her back to gastric bypass surgery eventually.
Once Ever has the surgery, her life does improve, bringing new friends and potential romance into her life, but things may be more confused than before when she tries to figure out their motivations. She also has to decide who she is now if she isn't just the "fat girl." Not to mention gastric bypass surgery comes with a whole host of unintended complications and lifelong commitments.
What I found interesting was that Ever isn't particularly likable. She’s not always a supportive friend or very compassionate. It's easy to say that she's protecting herself from the people who make fun of her but she actually has quite a bit of support around her. She's so busy thinking about herself because of Skinny that she can't see it until it's almost too late. She is a good kid though and learns from her mistakes. You can’t help but root for her HEA ending.
I loved her step-sister Breilla, who is seemingly shallow, but has a lot more going on beneath the surface. In fact I liked her more than Ever and kind of hoped she stole Ever's love interest, Rat (dumb name - awesome guy) away. O_O It was also interesting to me that being beautiful, thin and popular doesn't mean that everything in life is easy for you. I liked how the author explored different issues that teenage girls encounter by using the sisters relationship.
I related to Ever even though obesity wasn't an issue for me. I lost my mother when I was a teenager and some of her feelings and experiences really cut close to home for me and I even teared up a few times.
Rating: 3 out of 4 This is an emotional story that addresses obesity, friendships and family, as well as an in depth, unflinching look at gastric bypass surgery. I do think the author's choice to not address other methods of weight loss was a problem but I think in this case she was trying to discuss this particular topic and choice so it will be up to the reader to see how they feel about that I guess.
Author: website | twitter
Source: Scholastic/Point at BEA
Buy the book! Skinny – Release date October 1, 2012