Here's my latest review for SLJ--pretty good novel. I have to admit I'm a bit jealous--it's a semi-autobiographical novel set in Texas and published by Scholastic. ALL the things I've wanted to do!!Guess I should get my self in gear and get busy.....
In this debut novel, author Donna Cooner fictionalizes her own experiences with extreme weight loss surgery. Ever Davies wants the part of Cinderella in her high school musical. She thinks she would be perfect for the part—she can sing, she knows what it’s like to have a stepmother and stepsisters at home, and she knows what it’s like to be invisible to others; most people tend to ignore her since she weighs over 300 pounds. Even Jackson, a childhood friend and now a school hunk, looks right through her these days. Food has been comforting to her since her mother died; however, now her weight is becoming a serious health issue. And Skinny, the constant little voice in her head, doesn’t help, keeping up a running commentary about Ever’s weight and total incompetence at doing just about everything. Despite her concerns about the risks of surgery, Ever finally decides to undergo gastric bypass. Her geeky friend Rat stands by her throughout the entire process, helping her chart her progress with pounds lost and pertinent songs. As she loses the weight, Ever learns about the people around her—her stepsister Briella, who uses shopping to comfort herself when her real dad ignores her, her new friend Whitney, and even Rat, who might actually be Prince Charming in disguise. She forces herself to enroll in drama class in order to qualify for the musical and finds she honestly enjoys it. And as she becomes more confident, she realizes Skinny’s voice isn’t as loud or as strident as it once was. Ever even sees other people’s perceptions of her behavior are just as wrong as the perceptions she had of them. The surgery is discussed in great detail, enough so the reader can see this isn’t a quick and easy solution and see Ever’s problems don’t magically go away with the weight loss. A good first novel, the story will appeal to middle or high school girls, who often struggle with doubts and fears, whether it’s weight, loneliness or lack of popularity.