by Erin Dionne
First sentence: “‘No way,’ I hissed through the slatted dressing room door.”
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Celeste has never really worried about her weight. That’s not to say she was super-skinny: she’s not. But, she’s comfortable in her track pants and hoodie, and she likes her chips, soda and cookies. It’s not bothered her, and she’s never really thought about it.
Until her cousin Kathleen chooses the Peach Monstrosity for her bridesmaids’ dresses (of which Celeste is one). And then her mom and her Aunt Doreen conspire to enter Celeste into a HuskyPeach — that’s a clothing line for “plus sized girls” — modeling competition. Suddenly, the idea of being a HuskyPeach is too much for Celeste. But how to get out of it? By losing the competition, of course: if she’s too thin, she can’t win. So, Celeste makes the life-altering decision to alter her lifestyle. And with it comes some unexpected consequences.
This book has an interesting balance, walking the line between “fat is okay” and “losing weight will get you what you want.” On the one hand, Celeste isn’t really that obsessed with eating, and her parents aren’t really that hard on her eating habits. What bothers her more is that she’s incessantly teased by the (stereotypical) pretty, mean girl at school. Perhaps it’s just Celeste living up to expectations, because even though she has friends, she schlumps through each school day. On the other hand, once she starts the modeling competition, she’s given role models (no pun intended!) of confident, healthy, pretty overweight girls and women, and she can see her potential. She decides to start keeping a food journal, as part of trying to lose the competition, and she realizes that being healthy is better. She gains confidence, in part through the competition and in part from being healthier, and she’s able to conquer her demons and assert herself in ways she didn’t before.
The writing was a bit clunky, and the characters are overly cliched, but overall, a good book.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)