A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
I’m Chairing at the Edinburgh Book Festival again this year. YAY! And I have a lot, lot, lot of reading to do. I don’t seem to have read nearly as much these past twelve months as I’d thought so when I looked down the pile to-be-read I was thrilled at all the new prospects. Since my life will be entirely filled with these books for the next few weeks I thought I’d just chronicle the journey here, since I won’t have time for anything else. (These reviews will come in no particular order, only the next one off the pile. I have no favourite Chairee’s…I love them all!)
When I picked up Skinny by Donna Cooner it was in a nonchalant, casual, you’re next sort of way. Little did I realise when I cracked open the spine that I was going to be utterly and completely sucked in. Don’t you ADORE it when a book does that to you? I was caught off guard by Ever’s story, her voice was captivating and I read it in a few obsessive hours.
Ever Davies is fifteen years old. She is 302lbs. (That’s nearly 21½ stones, to save you working it out.) Not only does she carry around all that extra weight, she also has the added baggage of a nagging internal voice she calls Skinny. Skinny never shuts up, spewing vile abuse in her ear all the time about what everyone else is thinking about her. Skinny is so relentless and obnoxious that she often drowns out what people are actually saying. This makes Ever kinda prickly, she’s a bit snappy and often quite rude. Well, I guess you would be if someone was constantly abusing you.
Ever’s weight gain began in earnest when her mum died. They had shared a love of food while she was alive, but after her death Ever found solace in comfort eating. Her dad has now remarried and she has a lovely step-mother and two beautiful, thin step-sisters. The Cinderella references throughout the book are very clear. Especially when you learn that Ever has an amazing (and well hidden) singing voice, an obsession with musicals and a best friend called Rat.
Oh this book is wonderful. There is so much truth in it about the teenage condition. That need to fit in and be almost invisible and the utter hell when you don’t. The internal monologue that teens deal with when they feel they’re being judged is so real and never more vividly portrayed. And who isn’t going to judge a 302lb fifteen year old?
There is a turning point of particularly staggering horror for Ever which it would be difficult for anyone to move on from. But she does. She decides that weight loss surgery is her only option and with her friend Rat by her side every step of the way, she faces up to the very real prospect of dying on the operating table to have it done.
Rat is a wonderful character. He’s totally geeky obsessive as he takes notes during Ever’s consultations, makes charts for her and sits by her bedside monitoring and encouraging her every move.
By the end of this book there is such a genuine turnaround you’ll be wanting to air-punch. This is a book for every single teenager, regardless of their body image or their own circumstances. It’s a true lesson in self-worth and also in walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. And it’s a warm and compelling read. What’s not to love?