Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Description: Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it. 

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

Language: None (besides the term "sucks" and whatnot)
Violence: Mild (mostly talk of surgery, side effects, etc.)
Sexual: Mild (a few brief kisses)

I have to be honest here: this story really hit home hard.

I’ve never been three hundred and two pounds, but there was a time when I weighed a lot more than I do now. So I could relate to Ever. I remember feeling as she did; invisible, lonely, feeling as though nobody gave a crap whether you were in the room or not, as long as you didn’t bother them too long or even at all. I was scared of what people thought of me, and I had a voice like Skinny in my head. I still do, but that won’t change. Like her, I managed to push it out, but it still appears every so often.

The author of this story went through many things Ever did, both emotionally and physically. Cooner had done gastric-bypass surgery herself and is said to still be struggling with her weight. Now, I don’t know the situation she was in, but if she was feeling like Ever had, then I would say she was a brave person for doing the surgery.

In my experience, I could understand why Ever wanted to give up on trying to lose weight and just go through with the risky gastric-bypass surgery. There was nothing that was working for her. For me, I never went through with that, was too scared to even think of the possibility. Maybe that was something that annoyed me about Ever, how she seemed to grow tired of even trying to lose the fat on her own. She simply gave up trying and went deep into something that could kill her. At least it sounded like she gave up, because it didn’t mention her ever exercising on her own.

I don’t want to say that gastric-bypass is wrong, because it has helped a lot of people. Apart from this, it has also damaged or killed many people as well. Perhaps not as many, but definitely quite a few in this situation have. Honestly, since I’ve thankfully never been three hundred pounds, I can’t say whether or not I would go through with the surgery. So my opinions, if you’ve been in the situation, you will have to excuse me on, as I’ve never experienced it.

Putting this aside, there was something that bothered me about Ever. She was mean, and that probably had more to do with why it appeared to her many people disliked her than the fact that she was overweight. This thought hadn’t even occurred to her, however, and she assumed it was her obesity. Another thing: the main reason she went through the surgery was to get her life-long crush, Jackson, to like her again. I don’t appreciate this, how she didn’t just do it for herself. No, it was for someone else. Someone who didn’t even like her in the end.

In the end, she discovered she was only in love with the memory of Jackson, rather than the physical boy. There were a lot of things I wanted to yell at her (as well as yelling at Skinny to shut up constantly), and things I felt she could have realized sooner. I could relate to her in a lot of ways, yeah, but I don’t think I would have done some of the things she did, like dissing the only person who actually cared about her.

Despite everything that annoyed me, everything that was a touchy subject for me, and everything I felt could have been put differently, this was a realistic read that has taught me many things about myself. Much like Ever, I’ve learned to not care as much what everyone else thinks about me, and to know more about myself and the answer to the issues that have unfolded in the past.

The main thing is, don’t listen to that voice in your head. You may be able to overcome it, but don’t even listen to it telling you to give up. If you’re in this situation, or you know someone in this situation, tell them or yourself that you can do this, you can fight this, and you can’t just give up and lose everything you gained. Push Skinny away and keep the hope rising up above your head.

Cover: This cover is actually one of my favorite contemporary ones. Something I noticed about it, though, is if you look at the author’s picture, the cover model on Skinny looks impeccably similar, albeit a younger version of the author. Maybe it’s just me, though.

Setting: High school.

Characters: Ever. At times I felt bad for her, but most of the time she annoyed me. Honestly, she cares way too much about how others think of her. I feel like it took her too long to realize that life isn’t about being thin or popular.
-Rat. The kind-hearted, smart, and gentle person who sees what’s on the inside verses outside appearances. Maybe that’s why I love him. He can be sweet, but at the same time logical and humorous. Because of how much I enjoyed reading about him, I felt offended myself if someone called him geeky-looking.
-Briella and Whitney: the two have something in common at the beginning, how they both appear self-centered. But as I continued reading, I found that Briella feels insecure and dumb most of the time, and just wants a friend. Whitney, however, is exactly as I thought she would be: selfish and an attention-whore.
-Kristen. She’s a refreshing, nervous girl, who Ever seems to prefer to at first be nice to.
-Jackson. I knew you were up to no good, you jerk.

Storyline: An obese teenager risking gastric-bypass surgery to lose weight.

Writing: I enjoyed this writing, but at times Ever did irritate me (as she is the narrator, I felt I had to include this).

Surprises: There actually weren’t many surprises for me in this one. It was fairly predictable, but there was something about that I liked. There are hardly any books I prefer this with, but Skinny was unique enough for this case.

Overall: 4.5 stars. Skinny is an emotional whirlwind that touches sensitive issues on obesity, the desperate feeling of wanted to be loved, and the loneliness that resurfaces and makes you feel worthless.

Recommended: I would recommend this book to anyone who ever feels invisible or thinks of themselves as a project that can never be altered enough for perfection.

“I loved you when you were three hundred and two pounds, and I love you now." -Rat

—It just wasn't fair. God made some people naturally skinny and some people naturally fat. I'd never know how my life would have been different if I'd been one of the ones He made skinny. I didn't know how He chose. This one will be blonde, with long thin legs and great skin. This one will be short and fat with legs that rub together when she walks. I just knew I wasn't one of the lucky ones.

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