Friday, November 12, 2010

Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman and Lisa Pazer

Marcie Mandlebaum knows she is grossly overweight, and can't help feeling as though her mother would love her more if only she was thinner. Bobby is a mediocre football player with dreams of being a star, but he has his "moobies" and his father's expectations to hurdle first. Annie "East" Itou feels sad all the time since her brother moved away and her mother refuses to leave her bedroom. The only time she feels half normal is when she is pigging out with Char. Char is East's best friend who is also hiding a huge secret, one that could unravel East's entire life. On the inside, these four teens are seemingly very different. On the outside, however, they are all morbidly obese. After going through a series of tests and interviews, they all qualify for a controversial Lap-Band clinical trial, a surgery that will help them lose large amounts of weight. It also means drastically changing their lifestyles, though, and the four friends will get to know themselves and each other better than they ever have before.

Teenage Waistland is a surprisingly good book. I was snagged right at the beginning from the incredibly raw voices each character had. But be warned: this book is not full of happy scenes and feel-good moments. On the contrary, the stories are all quite tragic and sad, each in their own unique way. I admit I got a little squeamish over some of the details, but it was fascinating to read about the Lap-Band. Who hasn't seen those ads and wondered what it was? I thought there wasn't enough about the eating habits or requirements after the surgery though, as it was mainly about the emotional impact of the weight and the baggage each teen had in their life. This almost glorified the surgery, showing the teens losing a ton of weight and overcoming their emotional baggage, without paying tribute to the intense eating lifestyle changes. Lynn Bierderman and Lisa Pazer are fantastic writers, creating some really touching moments and a few downright hilarious ones. Buying a certain item for Marcie's sister's party CRACKED me up! And though it felt rushed, the ending wrap-up for all of the characters was rewarding.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

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