Review: Skinny Me by Charlene Carr

Skinny Me (A New Start, #1)

Jennifer Carpenter dreams of being a different person – A person with confidence, a person with beauty, a person who weighs a heck of a lot less.

At twenty-seven, her world falls apart. She’s out of work, her mother has died, her estranged brother is in a coma and, despite good qualifications, each and every job interview ends in another rejection. Marked by the teasing, taunts, and fat jokes that defined her childhood, Jennifer blames her current lack of success on her ever-growing waist band.

In need of a change, Jennifer puts her dream of ‘skinny’ above all else. Obsessed with this mission, she devotes her life to becoming the ideal version of herself even if it means becoming alienated from the only people who love her. Determined to lose the weight she believes is ruining her life, Jennifer finds herself in danger of losing so much more.

There was a lot to like about this book. It seems like I rarely get to say that. The character development was done just right and the plot moved along enough that there weren’t many times I was left wanting more action.

Let me say this: It takes balls to make your character become entirely unlikable a little over halfway through the book. It takes a skilled writer to bring that character back around so you’re pulling for them again. Charlene Carr does both excellently.

Jennifer goes from sympathetic, to really bitchy and obnoxious, and then back around to being a likable person again. Through her weight loss journey and her journey into becoming a whole new person, we follow Jenn through it all with a voice that rings true to life.

This is where I send a giant THANK YOU to the author for writing a book about weight loss that is so much more than a list of foods the protagonist hates but eats, gross food binges that most heavy people don’t actually do, and some magic silver bullet that suddenly makes overweight people want to be thin. I’ve walked away from so many books that were nothing more than a food diary masquerading as a novel about someone’s physical transformation, preachy little things that try to sum up the struggle with ‘eat veggies and turn off the tv.’ Carr’s book is so much more than that. She is able to take many of the real feelings that many overweight women feel and put it into words in a way that very authors have attempted to do. She doesn’t make her lead character a caricature. She makes her human. She gives her emotion and intelligence and relationships. That’s more than some writers would ever dare to do for an overweight character.

There are fantastic commentaries on view of self, negative and judgmental attitudes, and what success and failure really means. Great piece.

The required disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review. Go buy it, it’s worth the money. Plus Carr is an independent author and YAY for supporting indie writers.

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