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Skinny

Skinny
by Donna Cooper

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own. (goodreads.com)

Hi, there! Welcome to Cat Has A Whole Bunch Of Stuff Going On In Her Head, Therefore Reads Issue Novels Like Crazy! *trumpet fanfare”*

Actually, both The Stone Girl and Skinny were gifts from the same person (among other books that are NOT issue novels) and since I was in that head space, I just read one after the other. Skinny gets bonus points because up until a month ago, I’d never heard of it. My friend Melissa (YA Bookshelf) posted about this book on her facebook page and  I was totally curious about a teen novel about gastric bypass.

SPOILER ALERT – because I can’t express what I felt about this book without going into what happened. You have been warned.

I had a lot of thoughts while reading this book. My main thought was “Wow, Ever just isn’t a nice person. She’s very angry and mean.” Another was how I thought that some form of therapy needs to be part of the recovery process after a gastric bypass – especially for TEENS – since you can change yourself physically but there’s no quick fix or change to the psychological once your body changes. Ever was just as rude, angry, self-conscious and defensive after the surgery as she was before. Even though her weight loss was rapid and obvious, she still figured everyone hated her, mocked her and didn’t care about her. She alienates everyone regardless of her size.

And then another thought occurred to me – Donna Cooper managed to write an amazing novel where your perception of the characters from start to middle subtly changes. Ever hates her step-sisters. Her step-sisters are horrible, mean, selfish and don’t care about her. Obviously her step-sister is only being nice to her since the surgery because of ulterior motives. She is planning something. Only… you start to see the other people in Ever’s life completely differently than Ever does and you see Ever differently than you do at the start of the book.

At least, this is what happened to me. I took Ever’s point of view  as Truth as I started reading the book, because that’s normally how it goes when you have a story told by the protagonist. Her point of view wasn’t truth though. It was HER truth, but not the real truth. People she thought weren’t friends were friends. People loved her, wanted to help her, were on her side. Ever never sees them on her side. Ever. (the forever sort of ever and not the character Ever ever… this is complicated now.)

All the while my brain was forgetting – Ever was 15 years old. A FIFTEEN year old girl was having gastric bypass surgery because she was over 300 pounds. This girl ate bags of M&Ms at a time, she over eats, she eats when she’s sad, mad, stressed, anxious. She has an eating disorder. Rather than actually DEAL with the eating disorder, she decides to get gastric bypass surgery – but she still wants to eat everything. She’s still mad at the world. She still hates herself.

There are so many danger signs in this book that made me wonder why any doctor would even allow a 15-year old to have this surgery and NOT FOLLOW UP WITH THERAPY or something. Do you have any idea how all over the place a 15 year old’s head is? Especially one who has a chip on her shoulder about being overweight. I honestly don’t see a happy ending for Ever if this was a real life story.

However, it’s a fictional story and I had one problem with it… the meltdown Ever has in the end where she fights it out with Skinny, the imaginary Devil on her shoulder was… cheesy? Over the top? Unbelievable that this one thing would suddenly fix her up and make her ok? I felt like this scene was tossed in there because we needed to end the story but Ever hadn’t actually grown as a person (as she physically shrunk as one). It was rushed, out of tune with the rest of the story and it made me feel weird because of that.

Overall, I thought this was a great book. It was an original take on the issue novel – there’s bullying, eating disorder and just a bunch more stuff that ties in together to make Skinny a must read. I am very happy that I discovered this book AND that it showed up as a gift (by a different person) because I was looking forward to reading it. Now I am happy that I did.

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