Books

Skinny: A Novel by Diana Spechler

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Skinny: A Novel by Diana SpechlerSkinny: A Novel by Diana Spechler
Published by Harper Perennial
Published on: April 26, 2011
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
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About the Book

To escape thegrief she feels following her father’s death, twenty-six year old Brooklynite Gray Lachmann becomesa counselor at a summer camp for overweight children, where she discovers shehas her own demons to battle both emotionally and physically. In Skinny, the ambitious, accomplished, anddarkly humorous second novel fromreader-favorite Diana Spechler—author of Who ByFire and acontributor to Rumpus Women Volume 1—a vividly realized cast of characters mustcome to terms with eating disorders, buried secrets, and the trials of growingup.


REVIEW

I really, really wanted to like Skinny: A Novel by Diana Spechler , but was unable to find anything about the book that I liked personally which was very disappointing.  The premise sounded both interesting and witty and it was a topic that I have never really read about before.  From the moment we are introduced to the main character, she lacks any kind of personality and comes across as unbelievably whiny and self-absorbed.

It’s not very often that after I have read a book that I find myself still asking what the point of the entire thing was.   Gray finds herself at as a counsellor at a Fat Camp for kids, ironically run by some fat people themselves.  From the descriptions Gray, she is about 15-20 pounds over weight and not really fat herself.  I will not spoil one of the other reasons about why she is at the camp. but needless to say, it is not an environment that she needs to be a part of.  She rather bizarrely blames herself for her father’s death from a massive heart attack, even though he was morbidly obese by all descriptions.  Rather than deal with her grief, she begins binge eating and as such puts on those dreaded 15 pounds.

Rather than get professional help to get to the underlying reasons for her binge eating, she takes herself and her unhealthy mindset to the fat camp where she is supposed to be helping kids.   Then comes the casual sex, and cheating on the boyfriend who genuinely cares for her and is waiting for her at home.  I’m not really down with this skinny. shallow and unstable girl being put in a position of authority over children who need genuine help to make healthy changes to their lifestyle.  Gray would have been better off on a psychiatrist’s couch getting much-needed help for inability to cope in a productive fashion when life doesn’t go her way.

Books

Not My Daughter: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky

Not My Daughter: A Novel by Barbara DelinskyNot My Daughter: A Novel by Barbara Delinsky
Published by Doubleday
Published on: January 5, 2010
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal Copy
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About the Book

When Susan Tate's seventeen-year-old daughter, Lily, announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned. A single mother, she has struggled to do everything right. She sees the pregnancy as an unimaginable tragedy for both Lily and herself.

Then comes word of two more pregnancies among high school juniors who happen to be Lily's best friends-and the town turns to talk of a pact. As fingers start pointing, the most ardent criticism is directed at Susan. As principal of the high school, she has always been held up as a role model of hard work and core values. Now her detractors accuse her of being a lax mother, perhaps not worthy of the job of shepherding impressionable students. As Susan struggles with the implications of her daughter's pregnancy, her job, financial independence, and long-fought-for dreams are all at risk.

The emotional ties between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking in this emotionally wrenching story of love and forgiveness. Once again, Barbara Delinsky has given us a powerful novel, one that asks a central question: What does it take to be a good mother?


REVIEW

This had to be one of the most unrealistic books I have read in a long time.  The characters weren’t at all believable and I had a hard time just finishing the book it was so absurd.  The idea that girls would get pregnant for the hell of it and the parent just sit idly by and pretty much let them run roughshod over them is insane to me.  Not to mention the whole getting pregnant as part of a pact.

This is one book where I feel that the author is very out of touch with today’s teenagers, their mentality, or their reasons for doing anything.  There are very few teenagers out there who would say that I am going to get pregnant for the sake of getting pregnant.  You may find one of them, but to find a group of them operating under that mentality is just insane.  Not to mention, it says far more about the parents and their parenting skills if their children are ‘convinced’ to do something like that for the sake of the pact.

There is also an overwhelming lack of personal responsibility and maturity shown by the teens in this book.  That they thought that they were going to do this, in a town that has such puritanical views, and no one would be upset just screams that they are out of touch with the reality of their situation.  On top of that, we have a bunch of parents, who never express any real anger at the situation.  The express disappointment in the girls, but no consequences are implied (apart from the obvious one of being pregnant).  It’s like there are no rules, and no consequences for breaking said rules.  I don’t know, maybe I would be happier if someone had yelled, and told the girls how they have ruined their lives.  Of course, this does not happen.

Then you have the whole aspect of the town wanting to blame the entire thing on the mother of one of the girls, because she is the school principal who opened a clinic in the school to prevent this very thing from happening.  Did I also forget to mention that she had her daughter at 17 as well?  It is surely a case of history repeating itself, at least in the eyes of some of the school board, but in reality, this isn’t the case.  She never intended to become pregnant when she was 17 (like so many other teen moms), was disowned by her parents and struggled to do it all pretty much on her own.  She has demonstrated to her daughter that being a single parent is not easy, and that there are struggles to overcome and sacrifices to make.  What she forgot to do was to actually be the parent and set some ground rules and give her daughter a dose of reality.  I find her reaction the hardest to stomach, as someone who has been where her daughter is and knows how hard it is.  For that reason, she should have been the most upset and disappointed that all her sacrifices were in vain (and that her daughter appears to be the most out of touch with reality).

All in all, there was nothing about this book that I would recommend to someone else.  Scratch that!  I would recommend it as a manual of what no to do in case your 16 year old daughter comes home and tells you she is pregnant and expects you to be happy about it.