Emery Jackson doesn’t feel like she fits in with the rest of her family. Her mom and sister are cute and petite and skinny. They are obsessed with wearing stylish clothes and makeup. Her dad, a former basketball player, is never around, but when he is it’s clear that his favorite is Emery’s sister.
Most of the time she’s okay with the fact that she’s overweight and the only boyfriend she could get is chunky like her. So when Emery’s mom approaches her with the idea of doing a reality show in which she will be the star as she loses weight, she wants no part of it. But once she realizes that the money from the show could save the family home, she ignores her objections and signs on.
How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker combines a lot of things people seem to obsess over—weight, body image, reality TV, celebrity, and love—and puts them all under the microscope. Emery is quick witted, funny, smart and down to earth. But a lot of people don’t see past the pounds she carries on her body. To lose weight for the show she has to diet, exercise, see a counselor, and learn how to live a healthy lifestyle. That would all be great, except little things in the script also expose her to public humiliation, which means she has to have a thick skin to get through it.
Emery also discovers that while a lot of people support her and want her to succeed, there are others who would revel in her failure. It’s a lot of pressure for a high school senior to take on, especially when she doesn’t have trusted family members to fall back on. In the end she has to decide whether she can trust herself to do what’s best in the long run. While I would have liked to see a few issues more resolved at the end, overall I think the book provides a lot to think about and discuss in a book club. I recommend it for ages 14 and up.
The publisher gave me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.