Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught

As her high school years draw to a close, Jaime’s goals are high: to get into a prestigious journalism program at Northwestern, and to earn herself a scholarship to get there. To compete for the scholarship, Jaime begins writing a column in the school’s newspaper: Fatgirl. In it, she describes what it’s really like to be fat in today’s world, and dispels some myths people believe about fat people. By exposing the truth, Jaime hopes to show her world that fat people aren’t any different from anyone else, and to win her ticket to Northwestern University. When the column gets more attention than Jaime bargained for, she finds herself trying to juggle the publicity, judgment, and her personal life, all while refusing to back down from her mission.

Overall, this one was entertaining, but not super impressive. I thought it brought some very important issues to life, such as society’s growing bias against “fat” people, teen gastric bypass surgery, and the “myths” surrounding obesity. Jaime is perhaps the only character I’ve seen who is not obsessed with becoming thin, and who focuses on the real issues in her life rather than the superficial ones. That said, I thought Jaime’s voice was hard to get used to, and I was a little alarmed when she started spouting largely inaccurate and arguably dangerous medical opinions. Gastric bypass surgery was portrayed in its full gory glory, so get ready for that as well. A good read if you’re not looking for anything too heavy, and certainly a novel that can spark some interesting discussions.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.


Skinny by Donna Cooner

Ever is 15 years old and weighs 302 pounds. In her head, an invisible voice named Skinny broadcasts the thoughts of those around her. Skinny tells Ever what she already knows – she’s fat, ugly, pitiful, unlovable, unwanted. To reclaim the love of her life, Ever decides to go through with gastric bypass surgery – a controversial procedure for teens. Though the risks are high, Ever doesn’t care. All she wants is to be thin, beautiful, and silence Skinny forever.

Skinny is an entertaining read that talks about important issues, but I found no “wow” factor. I liked reading about gastric bypass surgery from a first-person narrator, and I enjoyed Ever’s mental and physical transformation. The plot was a bit formulaic, though, and I felt the description of Skinny as an independent person to be a bit much. However, Cooner’s novel gives a voice to teens struggling with negative body image, as well as highlights the controversial teen gastric bypass procedure, which is becoming an increasingly common occurrence.

Rating: 3/5

* YALSA Teen’s Top Ten Nominee, 2012

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.