45 Pounds More or Less

Book:45 Pounds More or Less

Author/Authoress: K.A. Barson

Cover: 3/5

45 Pounds (More or Less)

This cover could never be called beautiful. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Being the shallow person that I am, I fully confess that this is the reason this beautiful book sat around on my goodreads recommendations shelf for more than a month before I got around to read it. There’s no apology I can make that’s good enough. But I’m sorry- a million times and more. The cover may not be pretty but it is meaningful. From the green dress at the top to Ann’s pudgy calves in the middle to her flip-flops at the bottom the cover symbolifies most of the important part of the books. And that’s why the cover gets the redeemable score of 3/5.

Plot:4/5

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!

This description is deceptively ordinary. One of those ‘you should be happy with who you are blah blah blah’ kind of book.  It’s not. I would describe it more as a ‘you can always strive to be a better person but weight shouldn’t be one of the factors you take into consideration’ kind of book. I haven’t read that many contemporary young-adult books but I can safely say that I enjoyed the plot. Loved it even.

Characters: 6/5

Yes you read that right! Six on five!  Where this book really shines is the characters. I have never met characters who are more realistic than the one’s in the book. They have their virtues and their flaws and they are never anything less than three-dimensional.

Ann is obese (at 185 pounds, she’s 47 pounds heavier than the prescribed upper limit for her range) . And she knows she is. She doesn’t shy away from the fact or whine that it’s not her fault. She doesn’t sidestep responsibility by saying that it’s her Mom’s fault for making amazingly tasty food (I’ve heard that excuse used in real life). She acknowledges the fact that her obesity is a direct result for eating too much and exercising too little. Ann’s no Katniss Everdeen but she’s still a book character I admire and respect for this reason solely. It takes a lot of courage to face the facts, sometimes and even more to change those facts. What I like most about this book is Ann’s reason for losing weight. She wants to be a healthier person, look better and be able to wear certain clothes- all for herself. She’s not changing herself for anybody else, she’s growing (or shrinking) herself into a healthier, happier person. But she has her moments where she doesn’t exactly… well, shine. There’s no way I can say that I understand what she went through. I don’t have anything close to her complicated family situation. But let me tell you what I could feel. I cringed for her when she got stuck in a dress in a dressing room and I felt outrage on her behalf when a customer at her workplace made a crude remark about her getting hungry and eating all the pretzels.  I felt annoyance on her behalf when her mom constantly berated her for her weight and her embarrassment when her (sort-of) best friend took a dig at her weight.

Ann’s Mother. Oh my god. She’s one complicated character. Picture perfect from the outside. Decidedly not from the inside. You can tell that she loves her kids and she tries doing what’s best for them but it’s not always really the best for them. Almost half of this book portrays her in a less than favourable light. The perfect mom whose a bit embarrassed about her daughter’s weight problem and is very  vocal about it. She’s not above guilt trips, buying swim-suits as ‘inducement’ or barking at her daughter whenever she eats something even mildly unhealthy. Worse, she calls herself fat (even though she’s a perfect size 6) making Ann wonder what exactly her mom thinks of her. Is it any wonder that Ann resents her and is frustrated with her?

Mike: The politicky step dad. Diplomatic and nice to a fault. But at the end we see that he’s definitely dad material.

Libby is the adorable four year old sister who observes much more than her mother and sister notices. My heart broke for her when I realized that she was developing an eating disorder just from watching her mother and sister obsess over their own weights. Her twin brother doesn’t do much to help either, constantly ribbing her and calling her fat but he’s just as adorable as she is.

Rayne(e) is the nice, pretty popular girl who just so happens to become the protagonist’s best friends. She sounds like a walking stereotype but I promise she’s not. She’s a bit naïve, unwilling to believe what her (old) friends can do and annoyingly relentless in persuading her new best-friend to try new things.  She sews her own  clothes (how cool is that?) and she helps a lot in mending her new best-friends sense of self-esteem and confidence.

Jackie and her ‘bride’: Jackie is Ann’s aunt. Funny, bold and totally in love with her fiancé, Jackie acts as the catalyst for Ann’s want to lose weight. Although we don’t see much of her in the book, Ann repeatedly tells us about her support.

Cassie’s the obligational friend that we’ve all had. The one who we used to think was cool but now we wonder ‘Were they different then or just did we never notice how mean they could be’ kind of friends that we’ve all had once or twice in our lives.

Courtney’s the rampaging, raging mean girl of this book. She lies, she cheats and she makes Ann feel frumpy and fat. She spikes Ann’s drink at her party (causing Ann to act unmistakeably weird in front of her crush) and she lets Ann take her fall for the missing food at work.

Regina… she shows up in only one scene of the book and I think I laughed non-stop throughout it. Passively aggressive describes her to a tee. She’s always finding fault with something but never saying it straight up, only implying that things could be better. We can see where Mike gets his incredible politic skills although I don’t think he would like the comparison too much.

Jackie and her ‘bride’: Jackie is Ann’s aunt. Funny, bold and totally in love with her fiancé, Jackie acts as the catalyst for Ann’s want to lose weight. Although we don’t see much of her in the book, Ann repeatedly tells us about her support.

Romance: 5/5

This book doesn’t revolve around romance and I’m glad. I’m just saying that the message in this book wouldn’t have been as strong if Ann had decided to change herself for a guy.

There’s not much I can say about the love interest. In fact I can not even remember his name. I just remember that he had dimples and was taller than most people and Ann had a majorly sweet crush on him. He’s the guy next door and that’s something rare in most YA books.

The romance in this book was the awkward, first-love sort of romance. Sweet but not overpoweringly so.

Plotholes: 5/5

Surprisingly there were no flaws in the logic. Nor were there any unhealthy messages conveyed. If it wasn’t so pure and real-sounding, I would say that it was preachy because of the message it conveyed: eat healthy; don’t try to fit into clothes, make clothes fit you.

Overall rating:5/5

If you read the entire review, I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised that I rated it five stars. Buy this book. Buy it in hardcover. You’ll be reading it over and over again.

 

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3 thoughts on “45 Pounds More or Less

  1. Pingback: Rainbow Rowell: Rave About or Rant About? | Plot Holes be Gone

  2. Pingback: The Start of Me and You: A Book Review | Plot Holes be Gone

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