by K.A. Barson
Release date: July 11, 2013
Published by: Viking Juvenile
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
45 Pounds is a story about a teenage girl, Ann, who is battling her weight, her obsession with food, her thin mother’s judgment, and her own negative self-image. Her goal is to lose 45 pounds over the summer, and she is motivated by her aunt’s wedding and the dress she needs to wear. As someone who has battled with weight all my life, this novel made me think “Hmm…this author knows what she’s talking about; I bet she’s struggled with her image and her weight, too.” If that is not the case than K. A. Barson did some serious research into the minds of overweight girls.
I really liked Ann. She clearly wants to like herself but is having trouble figuring out how to do that in the body she has created. She struggles with the mental fight that emotional eating brings forth every day. For me this story was a story of awakening. Ann clearly defines how a child’s relationship with food is generational. Ann recognizes that part of her problem comes from her mother’s body issues. I loved how this realization is what causes an awakening in Ann when she sees how both her and her mother’s food and weight talk have affected her baby sister, Libby. It reminded me about the time my sister and I realized that my 7-year-old niece was picking up on our negative talk because she didn’t want to look at her baby pictures anymore because she said she looked too fat in them. I was shocked that this would come out of a 7 year old, but then my sis and I realized we needed to talk differently around my nieces to change this negative weight-talk paradigm.
Okay, sorry, less about me and back to the story…I think teenage girls will like this novel because while Ann’s main conflict is with herself and her body, she also struggles with various relationships: friendships, divorced parents, boyfriends, enemies, etc. And, of course, part of the awakening in this story is going to be about acceptance—where it comes from I’ll let you read and find out! It is a novel that is emotionally taxing to read but very rewarding in the end. There are some secrets revealed and some hurtful moments, but since I like to know if a story has a non-cheesy but happy ending, I’ll tell you that this one is very satisfying. Ann’s self-confidence will grow! I promise. And you’ll like the secondary characters, too: Ann’s mom, Raynee, Libby, and Jon (and you’ll hate some, too...stupid Courtney!)
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