Published by: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 22, 2012)
Format: Kindle Edition
Okay, I’m gonna make a confession here and there really is no easy way to say this so I’m just going to be blunt: I just ate an entire box full of chocolate covered cookies and a red velvet cupcake. Make of that what you will (though personally I’m using this book as a motivational tool to get my cookie belly to the gym. The thought of Tegan sitting there ready to whip me into shape makes me want to keep on eating just to give him more to work on. Rawr).
Annabel Conway has been overweight for as long as she can remember. The kids at her high school make her life miserable with the constant name calling and teasing. Her own mother likes to make pointed comments about her weight and appearance and often excludes Annabel from the pageant work she volunteers for because she’s embarrassed of having an overweight daughter. Come the summer between junior and senior year, Annabel has had enough. She’s ready to take control of her life and joins a gym in a different part of town so that nothing and no one can sabotage her plan to lose weight. As she slowly starts to shed the pounds, her personal trainer and local gorgeous gym hunk, Tegan, shows an interest in her as she is and Annabel is both elated and confused by this hottie’s attentions. As they become closer, she must reevaluate everything she thinks about herself, her body, her classmates, and her family and hopefully come to terms with who she is and who she can love.
Let’s face facts: if you are a person, and by person I mean anyone alive who lives among modern society (i.e. all of you out there. And me too), you are going to have some insecurities. More or less, something’s going to make you feel bad about yourself at some point. That’s the beauty of this book. Even if you’re not overweight, the fact remains that pretty much everyone can understand how difficult it is to be a teen facing the pressures and harshness of adolescence. There’s something that rings very true about Annabel’s situation and that will resonate with you far after it’s over. Annabel is under a lot of pressure and stress from her classmates and mother. Everyone keeps wanting her to be something different from what she is yet all she wants is to learn to be happy in her own skin. These two opposing forces meet head on and Annabel has to learn to meet the challenge or break from the strain. And she does it, quietly yet strongly and she kicks butt as a heroine! She’s pretty but not jaw droppingly beautiful. She has body issues she struggles with daily even as she starts to reach her weight loss goals. She lives in awe and dread of her mother, a woman she loves but can’t quite impress. All of this rolls into about 99% of the anxieties we face(d) as teens and Nyrae Dawn documents it all perfectly. Annabel reacts to everything around her with grace and dignity even as she is mocked for being herself. We see her both happy and sad about who she is and it’s only through meeting outside observer, Tegan, that she truly comes into her own and sees that she has value no matter her size.
I used to be overweight in high school too and like Annabel, I joined a gym and started counting calories in an effort to shed some weight in my junior year. But listen, if Tegan had been bending over lifting weights and flexing all over my gym, I probably wouldn’t have the saddlebags I do today! This guy is the perfect boyfriend and the perfect foil for the body conscious Annabel. Like her, he’s not perfect. He’s on the short side, comes from the wrong side of the tracks, and has serious issues handling his own brother’s handicaps. But he’s a great foil for Annabel and the fact that he’s ready to accept her overweight or not, finally teaches her that she is not a size but a person.
I really liked this one. It’s not heart wrenching or soul sucking but what it does, it does extremely well. It quietly reiterate that people need to learn to respect others and love themselves. It’s a good lesson to be reminded of especially in this time when wide spread bullying seems to be on the rise and kids are using what peers think and do as the reason to lose hope. Annabel almost does but finally is able to overcome her situation. Tegan is her catalyst but the strength is 100% her.
In the end, I’m giving this a 10/10 because I love the message Nyrae Dawn is sending to young women everywhere.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 10. I love that Annabel takes control of her situation. She wants to stop being overweight and instead of moaning and whining about it, she does what it takes to change herself. That’s a hard thing to do and stick with. She is an extremely likable character who obviously just needs a little love to blossom.
How much did I like the love interest:10. Oh Tegan, normally I don’t like short or muscular guys but you do it for me. You are sweet, endearing, thoughtful, focused, and dedicated to being the best person you can be for yourself and your family. You love your life and are trying to do the best with what you’re given. Plus you’re hot and don’t seem to care about Annabel being overweight. You see who she is all over, not just the covering. Such a rare ability!
How believable is the plot: 10. OMG! This was me–err, if I had managed to find a hottie at the gym who wanted to help me lose weight instead of being forced to go it alone with the weirdo grunter on the stairmaster. This book is 100% believable now or ten years ago. We all have issues with how we see ourselves and we all have insecurities.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 8. The writing is very light and breezy and you’ll zip through in a day max. I don’t remember any glaring grammar or spelling errors and the plotline is quick moving.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. The story wrapped up very well at the end so there was nothing pushing me to want more. All in all, I’m happy that it’s a standalone cause these two did what they needed to and now they can go and live their lives.
Final Score: 10/10. Okay, I’m going to be honest here, this book was not phenomenal or anything but the message it brings is. We all have body issues, parts of ourselves that are too big, too small, too different from everyone else’s and even if we don’t, there’s some aspect in our lives that’s a constant source of criticism from ourselves and others. I love the fact that this breezy, light book manages to show us that we can love ourselves and be loved by others in any condition. That we are the sum of our parts, not any single one. Really uplifting story that will motivate you and give you a big fat smile.