“Skinny” by Donna Cooner
Release Date: Oct. 1, 2012 | Publisher: Scholastic, 272 pages
About the book:
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.
This month we read Donna Cooner’s debut novel “Skinny.” Although our last book club selection dealt with teenage eating disorders, this book dealt with weight issues from the perspective of an obese teenage girl and her decision to undergo gastric-bypass surgery. Cooner’s protagonist, Ever Davies, has allowed her weight to define her and the way she relates to others. The book takes us on her journey of self discovery as she works to lose weight.
Our young reader appreciated that Ever made the decision to change her lifestyle for the better, even though that change came with sacrifice and risk. Overall, our adult readers’ reactions were similarly positive. The ideas of weight issues and insecurities are issues that all women can relate to whether they are teens, young adults, or middle-aged. Everyone at one time or another has dealt with insecurity at some time in their life. “Skinny” reminds us of that and the lessons learned as we came through those high-school years.
To enter to win a copy of “Skinny” for yourself, fill out our Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the reviews. Many, many thanks to Scholastic for providing us copies of the book to read.
Young Reader Average: B+
Lily graded the book a B+
Ever Davies is fifteen and over three hundred pounds. Since her mother’s death she has used food as an outlet for her frustration and sadness. But behind her elephantine figure lies an amazing voice. Skinny, the voice in her head tells her that she’s freakish, unloved and alone because of how overweight she is. But Ever decides to stand up to Skinny, and get a dangerous surgery that could help her lose weight, or make her live in excruciating pain.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and interesting. But what really stuck out to me was the fact that unlike other books with an overweight girl, Ever decided to do something about it, as opposed to the usual, where the girl learns to love herself despite her weight. While I am all for the idea of appreciating yourself, I’m glad that this story had a girl with enough moxie to change her life for the better.
Adult Reader Average: A-
Amanda graded the book an A+
You know that voice that we have inside of each one of us? Our subconscious? Donnor Cooner does an excellent job of allowing us to hear the inner-voice of a young girl named Ever, who severely struggles with her weight. Because of the loss of her mother, Ever has allowed herself to be swallowed up by the pain she feels, and has hidden herself behind her body. Food becomes her comfort. Through Ever’s inner-voice that she calls “Skinny,” we hear her feelings of invisibleness and how she believes that she is not worthy of love. The characters in this book feel real. The author gives them believable stories, voices, and reactions. One friend, in particular, Rat, becomes Ever’s voice of reason and support. He supports her true self, helping her to push past her outer appearance. Through his constant friendship, Ever learns that maybe she is more than what her inner voice, Skinny, has led herself to believe. Worthy and beautiful.I could relate to struggling with the inner voice and enjoyed Ever’s journey in learning to ignore the negative we tend to feed ourselves.
Diana graded the book an A
It has been a long time since I really enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed Skinny. I believe that Donna Cooner has written a book that truly captures the feelings that many girls have about themselves in high school. In Ever Davies’ case it was her weight. She truly believed that being “fat” kept her apart from others. So much so that she believes the self-destructive voice that she hears in her head about what others are thinking about her. Although she is a smart, talented girl, she only defines herself as the “fat” girl. A humiliating event leads Ever to finally agree to gastric-bypass surgery. Thus begins her journey of learning to love herself and even more, believing that others can love her.
As the story goes on we discover that Ever has so much to offer, but she’s the one that holds herself back. We also discover that even the so-called “perfect” girls, like Ever’s step-sister can also have insecurities. This is what resonated so much for me, the fact that we all have something that we feel insecure about. Ever is so insecure that she can’t believe that her childhood friend Rat, could really care for her. Their relationship was another part of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed. We all need a good, loyal friend like Rat.
I believe that the lessons learned about loving yourself, having confidence in who you are and not allowing others to define you, make this book very worth reading.
Cara graded the book an A-
After not especially loving last month’s Stone Girl, I was a little nervous coming into another book that dealt with weight issues in teens. But the premise seemed different enough that I hoped I would enjoy it more. And I did. So much more. This is the story of Ever, who lost her mother to cancer when she was 10 and began eating to compensate for her grief. Now 15 and 300 pounds, she is miserable within her own body, her worst thoughts and fears voiced by Skinny, the mean girl who taunts her from within. When all other diets have failed, she decides to have gastric bypass surgery. With the support of her best friend, Rat, she faces the challenges of recovering her health and her self-confidence.
When I read the synopsis, I was afraid this book would focus on the procedure and the more clinical physical aspects. While there was certainly plenty of information about the medical side, it was purely in support of the story. This novel isn’t about gastric bypass surgery, it’s about a young girl and her struggles with self-esteem. Overcoming the doubts created by our negative inner monologues and finding self-worth is a common struggle, making Ever very easy to identify with, regardless of whether you’ve been overweight.
I can’t say that I was surprised by any of the plot twists, but I still really enjoyed this book and was rooting for Ever to the end.
Cassie graded the book an A-
Going into her senior year at a prestigious New York City all girls prep school, Sethie struggles with body image issues. As the year progresses, her emotional state and personal relationships degenerate as she becomes more and more obsessed with her weight and appearance.
As a girl who has struggled with weight issues most of her life, this book really resonated with me. I know what it’s like to struggle with diet and weight loss, I know what it’s like to face ridicule from your peers, and I know what it’s like to have a voice chirping constantly in your ear that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not skinny enough, and that no one really likes you. Cooner hit all of those complicated emotions right on the nose, and the book was, at times, hard to read because of it. I knew exactly who Skinny was — I had her on my shoulder for a long period of my life.
But what really sells me on this book beyond that resonance is that this isn’t a story about a magical transformation and suddenly everyone loves the once-fat girl and she gets everything she wants. There is no magic wand. Ever has to work for her transformation, and it’s hard, and there are consequences, and that is wonderfully portrayed. She doesn’t become a size 2 overnight, and she probably never will. This is a book that shows us a size 16 or 14 or 12 as being beautiful.
I love the way the Cinderella narrative is worked in and turned on its head — there’s no fairy godmother, Prince Charming isn’t all he’s cracked up to be, the stepsister isn’t awful, most importantly, Cinderella’s transformation is inward as well as outward. Ever, in the start of this story, is not a nice person. She’s closed off and uncaring and entirely focused on the wrong things. She has low self-esteem, low body image, and she hurts people or shuts them out as a defense mechanism before they can do the same to her. And those are issues that don’t disappear as the weight does, and they’re issues that Ever has to work through before she can really begin to shine. That felt very true to life to me because I’ve lived it, and I appreciate so very much this overweight narrator who shows us that healthy is more important than skinny, and that big can be beautiful.
Keely graded the book a B
Ever Davies feels trapped in her own body – uncomfortable, tight at the seams and out of place amongst her peers in high school. Extremely overweight and well aware of the risk to her health, Ever consciously realizes that she should lose weight, but it’s a battle she cannot seem to win without drastic intervention. Enter Skinny – Ever’s very active inner voice that holds almost permanent residence on her shoulder spouting a constant dialogue of degradation and meanness that undermines Ever’s every attempt to gain control of her life and her weight.
Ever finally manages to gain control of her health through gastric bypass – a tricky subject at best given Ever’s young age. The one flaw I see is the rush to the surgery. The path to gastric bypass requires a good deal more time than we see in Ever’s case, but here I think that’s ok because it’s what happens after the surgery that is really key to Ever’s story.
What I liked about this book is that Ever feels real. She doesn’t become a waifish Barbie overnight. She works hard and struggles daily. Skinny is still there, still whispering in Ever’s ear trying to undermine her burgeoning confidence. Ever doesn’t get the boy (not all hope is lost folks!) and her life isn’t suddenly perfect. She remains a real person, with daily struggles and that makes her compelling.
On second stage we have Rat and Briella. By the end of the book I was totally in love with Rat – I know the name is less than appealing, but wait until you meet him. I wouldn’t say he’s totally swoon worthy, but definitely a slow smolder. And Briella – painted as the enemy at the start, but your heart will go out to her by the end and you’ll fall a little bit in love with her too.
All in all, I enjoyed the book. I found it relatable and I really enjoyed the characters and the realism portrayed by each of them. I think the only lacking spot is the rushed process of Ever’s surgery, but I could over look that because I felt her recovery was the bigger story. Well written, approachable and realistic (overall) – I give it a solid B.
Jenn graded the book a B-
Fifteen-year-old Ever Davies started gaining weight after her motherís death and never stopped. Her
negative thoughts make it difficult to connect with everyone except her best friend, Rat. After an
incident at an awards assembly left her humiliated in front of her classmates, she decides to undergo
gastric bypass surgery. She is certain that losing weight will win her crushís heart, help her make friends,
and finally give her the confidence to try out for the school musical.
I liked Ever and I cared about her, but I didn’t always find the story realistic. I think a lot of us have a
voice in our heads that tells us weíre not good enough from time to time, but Ever’s obsession with how
people perceive her was a bit over the top. Also, the end of the story was just a bit too tidy, even if
things didn’t work out exactly as she hoped.
I thought Ever was a very sympathetic character. Rat and her stepsister, Briella, also had interesting
personalities and back-stories, but most of the other characters were pretty flat. Even Jackson, Ever’s
crush, was not really fleshed out.
Nevertheless, I liked reading a book that shed light into the reality of someone who has gone through
gastric bypass surgery. She still had to work on the things she thought were going to come easily.
Furthermore, I think that a lot of teens might be able to relate to Ever’s feelings of insecurity.
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