45 Pounds (more or less) by K. A. Barson

45 PoundsCindy: Raise your hand if you are dieting, have been on a diet, have fallen off a diet, or know an adult who struggles with weight issues? Yeah, I thought so. If we, with the wisdom of our years of experience, struggle with weight loss, weight gain, and body issues, imagine how tough it is for today’s teens! Barson takes on this issue in the fictional story 45 Pounds (more or less) (Viking 2013) about teen Ann Galardi’s latest weight loss attempt. Her aunt and girlfriend are getting married and want Ann to be a bridesmaid…causing Ann to think she needs to lose 45 pounds in two and a half months in order to look good in her dress and please her mother. Those of us with life experience at losing weight know where this story is heading, but teen girls will follow Ann’s humorous, self-deprecating, and ultimately wise decisions about food, fashion, friends, and family with interest and compassion.

“I long for the roof to cave in at Keehn’s department store. For a bomb threat. Or even a simple power outage. Anything to stop the torture of swimsuit shopping with my mother.”

Yep. We understand this. And we understand Ann’s misunderstanding of her “perfect” mother who is a size six and seems to have her eating under control…or does she? Ann eventually realizes that her mother has issues of her own. We laugh as Ann buys an infomercial dieting/exercise kit despite her grandmother’s sage advise and struggles to eat the horrible packaged food and to complete the killer aerobic routines. We sympathize as Ann deals with horrible co-workers on her first job (a pretzel shop at the mall is not the best choice for a dieter, but what teen fashion shop wants to hire someone Ann’s size, right?) And we cheer every time she makes another step toward a healthy, sustainable relationship with food and eating.

My middle school female students are no different than most when it comes to issues of body image and dieting and we can’t have enough books like this to help our young women realize that a good self-image is one part moderation and one part acceptance. I have just one objection concerning K. A. Barson’s book: In her book jacket bio she says that she has “too many pairs of shoes.”

Sorry…you can NEVER have too many pairs of shoes. And they are lot more fun to shop for than bathing suits. Just sayin’.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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