Sunday, July 14, 2013
Review: 45 Pounds by K.A. Barson
Review: 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson
Release date: July 11, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Source: ARC given to me by Christina
Rating: Hilarious, heartfelt, and so emotionally true. Anybody who has ever felt self-conscious about the way he or she looks (so... everyone) will be able to relate.
Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:
She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.
Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.
And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!
The cover: It's cute! It didn't necessarily grab me, and it caused me to pass on requesting this on Netgalley (stupid, stupid, stupid!), but that's my own problem. I love the butter yellow and the two font titles, though I wish you could see more of Ann.
The story: I'm IN LOVE with this book, with the voice, the messages, the plot. Everything It was a super delightful read that's also very moving. Never does 45 Pounds become overly preachy. It's merely one girl's journey towards shedding not just pounds, but her obsession with food and looks and her crippling self-doubt. And most of all, this book is about family. It certainly does promote a healthy way of dieting and dealing with your body, though.
Family: Ann's parents split up when she was two. She doesn't have much to do with her dad's new family, and she feels abandoned by him and her older brother. Her mother has also remarried and has two four-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and Ann lives with them. Her mother, really, is the seat of all of Ann's food- and body-related insecurities (of which there are A LOT). Ann is a size seventeen, she tends to eat for comfort, and her mother's favorite topic of conversation is weight. It's all she and Ann think about, and it seriously takes its toll on Ann.
I loved the relationship between Ann and her mother. It was realistic and semi-dysfunctional. They both clearly love each other, but they both have so much to learn. And it's really only when Ann realizes that her mother's weight obsession is affecting Ann's four-year-old sister that she really decides to make some changes about her mentality. The book also focuses on Ann's relationship to her half-siblings, stepfather, aunt, grandmother, and estranged father and brother.
Self image and health: I can count on one hand the number of YA books I've read with overweight heroes or heroines (The Girl of Fire and Thorns; Holes; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things; um...) and even fewer that focus on health and weight specifically, which is crazy, because this is America, and obesity is an epidemic and all that lovely stuff. But Barson decided to tackle this hefty topic (ARGH, NO PUN INTENDED), and I have to say she pulled it off perfectly. Ann's logic is twisted and so spot-on. Her insecurities are deeply-seeded, but so brutal and realistic. All her struggles with her weight, and people's reactions to her weight.
Ann: Ann was by far the best part of this book. Her voice is funny and earnest. Her thoughts about herself are so sad, but she says them so funnily. I mean, she won me over by about page five, when she described getting stuck in a dress in possibly the funniest way ever.
She's what makes this book fun. The first half in particular could have been difficult, because Ann lives with a lot of very thoughtless people, some of whom can be outwardly cruel, but because Ann is so delightful, it didn't kill me. Oh, believe me, I felt for her. I was Team Ann from the get-go. This is a girl with flaws that you root for so wholeheartedly, and you want to smack everybody who treats her badly very hard in the face. You want to pull her out of her damaging ways and get her to break her damaging patterns, even when you understand them (I have a tendency to eat my feelings as well, and that is a HARD cycle to break).
I also loved that Ann was not the only fully-rounded character. Ann's friends and even her nemeses had depth to them. I was particularly impressed with the layer to Ann's stepsister, Naomi. There was character development in places I wasn't expecting it. There were struggles with Ann's friends that also felt very real and central to the plot.
A blush of romance: I am usually the girl who ALWAYS wants more kissing, more romance, more swoons, but the fact that this one took a backseat to Ann's personal journey was a good choice. Even though this awkward little romance was the cutest. It felt realistic and fumbly and mortifying, but it also made me squeal. And I love that the guy just honestly sincerely liked her. As her. As she is, as she looks.
Things were wrapped up probably a little too neatly and sweetly at the end, but I didn't really mind. I liked the cuteness. I wanted that after Ann went through such a tough emotional journey in this book. there is the possibility for slight eye rolling with how saccharine it gets, but I was in the mood for that, and it just made me happy. This whole BOOK made me happy. Thank you times a million, Christina, for sending it to me! I'm putting it on the "favorites" shelf. This book's earned it.