Book Review: The Fat Girl

By Laura Moncur @ 7:48 am — Filed under:

Fat Girl by Marilyn Sachs at Amazon.comI read teen lit all the time, mostly because the science fiction is better than the sci-fi written for adults (less sex and more cool ideas: see Scott Westerfeld for more). While perusing the teen section at my local bookstore, I saw The Fat Girl by Marilyn Sachs. The blurb on the back of the book was compelling to me.

Jeff Lyons can’t stand Ellen de Luca, the fat girl in his ceramics class. She’s huge and clumsy, can’t throw a pot to save her life, and stares at Jeff all the time. But he’s a “nice guy” and feels bad when Ellen overhears his hurtful remarks about her. The “crumbs of kindness” he tosses her way soon turn into advice on weight loss, college, clothes, hair… To everyone’s surprise, good-looking Jeff soon dumps his pretty girlfriend to be with the fat girl! But as her pounds melt away, Jeff resents the happy, independent young woman he has unleashed. Where is the gratitude for all he’s done for her?

Through most of this book, I had a uneasy sense of distress for Ellen. Here was this good-looking guy who seemed to enjoy being with her only because she was easy to control. He dressed her, he chose their activities, he was in complete control and when he wasn’t in control, he was pissed off at her. It just didn’t seem like a healthy relationship. Fortunately, Marilyn Sachs is a brilliant writer who can make even the controlling Jeff Lyons a likable character and the story works out well for everyone in the end.

Dreams Can Come True by Jane Claypool MinerOverweight teen girls LOVE stories about fat girls who lose the weight and end up with the cutest guy in school. I know this because I was an overweight (or so I had been told my whole life) teenage girl. My beloved fat girl book that I read over and over in ninth grade was Dreams Can Come True by Jane Claypool Miner. It was about a girl name Ellie who lost a lot of weight right at the time that her mother moved her to California, so none of the kids knew how fat she used to be at her old school and none of them were surprised when she tried out for cheerleader. It all risks crashing down around her when her old friend from the Midwest comes back to visit, exposing her dark secret of her past self. I LOVED that book and read it countless times. Even now, I’ve come to realize that my desire to move to California was first spawned by that very book.

Unlike Dreams Can Come True, The Fat Girl is a book about losing the weight and coming into your own life and an additional story about not allowing anyone to control you or your dreams. It’s a better role model story about health and fitness for young girls than Dreams Can Come True and I wish I could go back in time and give it to my fourteen year old self instead.


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