Book Review: 45 Pounds (more or less) by K.A. Barson
45 Pounds (more or less) by K.A. Barson
Published July 11th 2013 by Viking Juvenile
Format: Paper Books
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Contemporary, Chick Lit, Humor, Coming of Age, Body Acceptance
Goodreads | Amazon
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 8 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in two months.
Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, terrifying wedding dance lessons, endless 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!
I had only one reason for reading 45 Pounds (more or less) by K.A. Barson. There was a fat girl in it and that fat girl was the main character. She wasn’t the quirky friend who has a great personality, never mind what she looks like. She wasn’t the wallflower, background character that everyone teased and was the butt of jokes but only appears for a little while. Ann, age 16 and size 17, is the main character. I’ll come right out and say it; I am fat. By official measurements, I am in fact morbidly obese. I have been overweight all my life. That includes my teen years. 45 Pounds (and it kills me to start a sentence with a numeral like that) hit me hard and kept hitting me until the very end.
Ann was an awesome character. Barson encapsulated how overweight people think and feel in Ann. We do want to change, we want to be thin and healthy, and we’re frankly disgusted by ourselves sometimes. We make all the plans in the world to diet and workout but it’s hard and that end result is a nebulous, unclear idea somewhere in the future and the ice cream is immediate and delicious and right in front of us. We eat the ice cream and then immediately feel horrible for eating it. We’re hyper aware of the world and what other people might be thinking of us. Connecting with people gets harder because we are constantly wondering what they are thinking, how they are seeing us and our excess fat rolls, and sometimes it’s better to just not deal with it and hide. Ann’s thoughts and feelings were spot on and things I’ve thought and felt myself.
I liked how Barson dealt with all matters of weight issues, from being overweight to being underweight and even how our weight and looks obsessed society is affecting young children. It’s just as unhealthy to be underweight and yet it doesn’t attract the same negative attention as being overweight does. I thought showing both extremes was a nice touch. My favorite part is when Ann realizes what her family’s obsession with weight is doing to her little sister and how ridiculous both she and her mother are being about it. All the adults in this family have emotional problems and that’s reflected on how they see and treat food. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction or chick lit books but I made it a point to check out 45 Pounds because of the main character. Nothing annoys me faster than some pretty female YA character whining about their hair or skin or mildly fluctuating weight. Our society’s body expectations are ridiculous but I liked seeing an actual realistic girl dealing with a real weight issue.
Ann is hilarious and so real that it’s easy to relate to her. Readers will be reminded how awkward being a teenager was, even if they themselves didn’t have weight issues. Barson writes Ann’s emotions and thoughts so well that anybody will be able to empathize with her. There are a lot of subtle subplots and some excellent secondary characters that add richness and depth to the story. The little romance between Ann and the cutie-pie from the mall was nicely done. Ann’s aunt getting married to her girlfriend was awesome. Ann learns some tough lessons about family, true friendship, and about accepting yourself. I recommend 45 Pounds (more or less) by K.A. Barson to everyone.