Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

by Donna Cooner
Published: Oct 1, 2012
Publisher: Point
Available: Amazon

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.

I was so torn over this book, both while reading it and after when trying to decide on a rating and review. There were parts of the story that I absolutely loved. Ever's thought process about food and her self-image, including the voice of Skinny are so real and I know I've had very similar thoughts and feelings. I completely identified with Ever in this portion. She has all of these dreams for her life, yet feels they are impossible simply because of her weight and the way she is perceived by society. And she's right. Weight is probably one of the few things people of all races, gender, and orientation openly discriminate against (this of course is based on my own scientific analysis of personal experience:) ). The first part of this book is where Cooner's writing shines. There is a depth of understanding for what Ever is going through that feels very personal.

The story though takes a turn so fast my head spun. One minute Ever is struggling with the physical impact her emotional response to her mother's death has on her weight and then suddenly she's getting major MAJOR elective gastric bypass surgery!! 

I don't have anything against weight loss surgery. I think it is a viable option for people who's life is at risk. Who are unable to do physical activity due to their weight. Who have gone through all options. Who have determined that their weight problems are due to physical issues and not emotional. Ever is physically able to exercise. Ever has tried a few diets, but earlier in the book confesses to binging and hiding food, purposely sabotaging her diets and eating for spite. Ever has emotional problems. Her weight gain was a direct result of her mother's death. Yet no one suggests she get some grief counseling or therapy. How could any adult (parent or doctor) let her get a FOREVER LIFE ALTERING and ENDANGERING surgery because she gained weight when she's a child struggling to deal with the death of her mother?

I can understand the author's perspective. In her author's note Cooner talks about the positive impact her own surgery had on her life. I can understand and respect that. I suppose the problem was the author's message. She wanted to write about taking scary steps forward to make yourself skinny and valuable (because Ever can't do this while she's fat). I wanted it to be able a girl who either accepts herself as she is and learns to value herself regardless of her weight, or learns to deal with the loss she was dealt and make positive but hard changes to improve herself.

I do think this is an enjoyable book, and there is a good message in there. I don't however think I'd give this to a teen struggling with weight loss as it presents surgery as an easy out for dealing with the underlying issues usually associated with weight problems.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I've been considering this book for a while. Now I feel like I have to pick it up! :)