How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love. Now that is an epic title for a book. Especially a book targeted at young adult readers, specifically girls. Sounds a bit vapid though, doesn't it? However, that is an assumption that is incredibly off-base. Ken Baker wrote a great novel for young women.
About the book
Running Press Teens // April 22, 2014
“Thick. Heavy. Big-boned. Plump. Full-figured. Chunky. Womanly.” To Emery Jackson, these phrases are just nice euphemisms for the big “F” word of “fat.” But to her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former Laker Girls mother, they are unacceptable states of being.
Emery’s cash-strapped family’s solution? Signing up for a reality TV show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win a million dollars.
As the pounds start to drop and the ratings skyrocket, Emery feels the weight of success. And she must figure out how to turn the truths she uncovers—about beauty, love, fame, and family—into the keys to more than just fortune.
I was pitched this book for review from the publisher, along with another title (Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell - you can find that review here) and was kind of on the fence about it. The title sounded like something I wouldn't be drawn into and the synopsis didn't add much spark to my interest. The title sat on my TBR pile for a few weeks before I got to it this weekend- and devoured it in one sitting.
I was so impressed with this ya novel. It isn't about a vapid girl looking to shed weight and become famous - it is about a girl who is aching inside and gets on a reality tv show to help her family. Turns out, she is helping more than her family. She is helping herself become the strong, healthy, independent, happy young lady she is. She is helping innumerable amounts of young women who watch her vlog posts. She is helping others who are in need of getting fit and healthy. She is helping the world and she doesn't even realize it until she is knee-deep in the reality of reality tv.
Emery is a tough kid. Putting up walls helped her survive being overweight. Now she is shedding weight and breaking down those walls. As a main character, I found her incredibly real and inspiring. So much so that I honestly think this needs to be required reading for teenage girls. She promotes self-love, growth, fighting stereotypes, and building each other up instead of breaking each other down. It is impressive. I can guarantee that young girls will relate to her character, without a doubt. The characters that Baker has developed are genuine and easy to understand. They grow as they story moves forward.
In addition to the great character development, I was wholly impressed with the way the story was portrayed. It easily could have been a Mean Girls or Clueless style tale, but what Baker really did was write a book about the struggles of overweight teenagers (specifically girls) and make it as honest as possible. It shows the inner workings of the teenage mind, the inner workings of family and sibling rivalry, the drama of high school, and of course the reality of "reality" television. The morals of the story are plenty. Get healthy for you (not anyone else), trust your gut, challenge the norm, stand up for yourself and others, be kind, and treat every day like gold. Baker crafted a moving story that I think is very powerful, especially for teenage girls. I think this will remind them that what they feel about their bodies ins't abnormal, but that it also isn't healthy. It will shed some light on all the things us adults tell the kids about society, but they refuse to hear. I really want young girls to read this book, it is a wonderful story and one with so much power to change the reader.
Ken Baker is an E! Entertainment Television News Correspondent. He is the author of "Fangirl," and his memoir, "Man Made: A Memoir of My Body," is the inspiration for the upcoming film "The Late Bloomer." He lives (and writes) in Hermosa Beach, California. You can visit him online at kenbakernow.com or via Twitter @kenbakernow.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair an honest review. Book synopsis, author information, and image from Amazon.com