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The Second Life of Abigail Walker

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  634 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
Is it possible to start afresh when you’re thoroughly weighted down?

Seventeen pounds. That’s the difference between Abigail Walker and Kristen Gorzca. Between chubby and slim, between teased and taunting. Abby is fine with her body and sick of seventeen pounds making her miserable, so she speaks out against Kristen and her groupies—and becomes officially unpopular. Embraci
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Newbery 2013
70th out of 113 books — 1,204 voters
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Plus-Size YA Heroines
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,394)
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There are many facets to the experience of reading a book beloved by a friend. There are probably others that these, but the ones I can think of right now are the friend, the friendship, society, the book itself, and the reader. The experience of reading seems tied up in all of those parts, but also, I think they are all individual experiences. I read this book because it is beloved by a friend, and I love the way it lets me know that friend better and what it says about our friendship that she ...more
Wandering Librarians
There's a confession I'd like to make, I know that Frances O'Roarke Dowell is an amazing writer but I always end up finishing her books with a bit of a miffed feeling. There seems to be always a bit too much going on, or a theme that just doesn't need to be there, or an aspect that is a little jarring.

I really thought that the whole aspect with Abigail's different issues - being bullied, weight, discovery of self - trying to resolve themselves was quite well done. The evolution of her friendship
Sep 19, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
I can't quite put my finger on why I liked this book so well. I shouldn't have, really; I'm wary of books about mean girls, which are often uncomfortable to read until they sometimes offer an easy answer; of books about overweight girls, which usually seem to struggle with being both body-image-positive and you'll-be-happier-if-you-lose-weight. This book ought to be "doing too much", because it is about bullying, body image, parent/child relations, post-traumatic stress disorder related to frien ...more
Nov 12, 2012 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Abby has always been on the outskirts of her group of friends, considered the fat one who could be teased endlessly about her weight. She has to be careful not to give her real opinion and to always toe the line set by the group leader. Privately, she considers them to be “medium girls” and nothing special, but they are her friends. As Abby starts to investigate the abandoned lot across from her house, she gets gently bitten by a fox. It is from that point on that she is no longer content to be ...more
Sixth grader Abigail (Abby) Walker is desperately trying to fit in with a group of girls she thinks of as "mediums" because of their clothing size and their safe, vanilla attitudes. But because of her extra weight, 17 pounds more than the others, and possibly because of her desperate need to belong, the girls--mostly Kristen and Georgia--make her the butt of jokes. She feels pressured to go along with whatever they say, until one day she's had enough and simply disagrees with a cruel, clueless r ...more
Sep 14, 2012 Eh?Eh! rated it really liked it
A sweet little ambling story. It didn't fit together very well with lots of out-of-left-field-feeling parts and characters, but the girl was written spot-on. There was a sentence that was something like, 'she didn't want to start crying, so she kept chewing.' Oh, Abby, I know. I know. There was another part where she looks down at herself and sees her doughy thighs and the roll around her stomach. I was happily unselfconscious of my body until 4th grade, when tiny Vanessa (a classmate kind of li ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Dashiel rated it did not like it
This book was disappointing. It's told from the point of view from a young girl who is overweight and is bullied about it in school. There is also a fox, who has certain magical abilities, which were not explained very well in the story.

The main character seemed to have too much self pity, some parts were left unexplained, and some of the characters seemed to act much different than people their age should have.

(view spoiler)
Apr 01, 2013 Stacy rated it liked it
As a rule, I don't enjoy realistic fiction. Especially when it is "issue" centered.
This would normally be a 1 or 2-star book for me. However, the fox character that creates the extended metaphor enhanced this reading experience. O'Roark Dowell hooked me when she began the book, "the fox had been stepping into stories since the beginning of time. Important stories, everyday stories, stories that only matter to one or two people. She sniffed stories out. When she smelled one that interested her .
Nov 04, 2012 Wendi rated it did not like it
I would have liked the book better without the magical fox. Sometimes magical creatures can seem believable and add to the story, but not in this case.
Courtney M.
May 26, 2015 Courtney M. rated it really liked it
Abbey just wants to fit in with the popular people. But when she finally makes a retort back to them after they insulted her she is suddenly never going to be popular again. She makes some new friends and helps a man find his sanity by writing a poem about Louis and Clark. Then her friends come back looking for revenge. Will she find a way out or will she be humiliated, again?
I gave this book four stars because it tells the story of a girl who is struggling with everything social-wise because
Sep 04, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Sixth grader Abby she feels lucky when a group of "medium popular" girls take her into their group after her best friend moves away. However, Abby quickly realizes that she is on the bottom of their social ladder, always teetering between being in and being shut out. The fact that Abby is slightly overweight gives them fuel to constantly taunt her. When she decides one day that she has had enough of their cruelty, Abby walks away from the clique. Though turning her back on the girls results in e ...more
Aug 31, 2012 Bookandahug rated it really liked it
Middle school girls with medium lives can be very, very mean. It's subtle and hard to prove sometimes but when you are caught in their web, it can be an intense and painful problem that no one else can help you with .... maybe.

This is the world of eleven year old Abigail Walker known to her classmates as Tubby Abby. This is the world where no one sits with her on the bus, and her parents try to get her to eat one slice of cheese pizza instead of three slices of sausage pizza.

Abby is drowning he
Maddie D
Mar 27, 2013 Maddie D rated it liked it
I am currently reading the Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances Dowell. I'm not very far in this book, but so far I think it's very interesting. It's about a young girl who's going into middle school that is from New York. Her new house is supposed to have a hidden diamond in it somewhere. So Abigail starts telling everyone at school that there's supposed to be a diamond hidden in her house, but nobody listens and she just gets made fun at even more. I think the book is interesting be
Nov 01, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 4th-6th grade
A blend of realism and fantasy about bullying, and learning to like yourself and know more of who you are. I liked Dowell's writing and the progression of the story. The ties between the war veteran and Lewis and Clark expedition were interesting, but there wasn't an explanation of why the vet became interested in the expedition to begin with. I'm also not sure about the fox and his narrative, but it worked fairly well. It gave an air of magic to a story in which Abby changes subtlely. She disco ...more
Sep 22, 2012 Becky rated it liked it
I really liked Frances O'Roark Dowell's newest book, the Second Life of Abigail Walker. It didn't wow me as much as Kristin Levine's The Lions of Little Rock OR Rebecca Stead's Liar & Spy, but, it was a gentle, satisfying exploration of first friendship. The heroine, Abigail Walker, does not have many friends, and what "friends" she did have once her true best friend moved away the year before, she's since lost because she was brave enough to stand up for herself. (Her new "friends" liked to ...more
Laura Phelps
Nov 10, 2012 Laura Phelps rated it liked it
Shelves: possiblemsba2012
I am quite torn about this blend of realism and fantasy. On the one hand I really loved Abby, the slightly overweight main character who suffers bullying at the hands of her 6th grade peers (and her parents, really). Her ability to deal and find friendship elsewhere is both believable and quite impressive. Alongside the story of Abby is the more fantastical story of fox - an animal character who brings Abby together with an Iraq war vet suffering from PTSD. There were a few pieces of this which ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Outstanding. Dowell gives us a coming-of-age story in the truest sense and one that is achingly authentic. Lonely chubby Abby, adrift after her best friend moves away, wanders into the circle of the "middle" girls. Eleven-year-old mean girls are just as nasty as older mean girls and Abby struggles to please them as well as her parents who are worried about Abby's weight and social standing. Abby knows the consequences of going against the popular group and her first tentative steps toward standi ...more
Mar 03, 2015 Grace rated it liked it
Shelves: didn-t-like
This book is definitely not what I expected. I was really confused with the ending, because it wasn't much of one. The book started off with a good start but for me it went downhill from there. I feel like the plot was really under-developed and didn't really have much depth or purpose. The character development was okay, but I feel like Matt's could have been better. I also wish Kristen & Georgia's actions after the beginning would've been explained more. All in all it was an okay book,
Oct 30, 2012 Margaret rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 10, 2014 Carolanne rated it liked it
I was really enjoying this book right up until the end. I felt like it just petered out. I was intrigued by the mixing of realistic fiction with fantasy/folktale (with the fox & crow) and was hoping for an explanation or inference of the significance of the fox & crow, but I never saw it.

Kids will identify with Abby having to deal with 'mean girls'. I love how she develops the self-confidence to accept/love herself as she is - despite her awful, clueless parents - and how she makes bett
Jul 19, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-ya, read-2014
Eleven year old Abigail discovers herself in this story of the bullies she must defend against, the kids who really are her friends, and a young boy met in her wandering in nearby woods whose father is struggling with PTSD and who needs her help. A fox enters the story too, adding a bit of magical realism, and Dowell puts it all together beautifully. What a strong main character Dowell gives us in this story, one to offer those middle graders who are struggling to find a place in their worlds th ...more
Dec 03, 2015 Kimberly rated it really liked it

I have been reading Other Hall Of My Heart by Sundee T. Frazier
As far as I read it’s about two little girls named Keira and Minnie they’re sisters. The one things that is different about the two is that Keira is black, and Minni is white. The two sisters wished that they could be treated the same. The parents love them no matter what color but it's Kiera's grandmother.. She treats Minnie differently and it's not fair!! Will Minni stand up? or take the hurt..
The only thing that is not fair is tha
Sep 12, 2015 Natalia rated it really liked it
I absolutely love this book! It was a very interesting read. I connect a lot to the main character, Abby, as I'm sort of chubby,too. I feel that the way Abby thinks and talks is very similar to me, and I think that in real life we would be best friends. This book was written beautifully, and I really love Abby, Anders, and Matt. Naturally, I hate Kristen and Georgia (I actually hate Georgia more), Abby's dad (He was so mean to Abby!) and I don't know much about Anoop, Marlys, and Abby's mom. I t ...more
Jessica | Bookish Serendipity
This review originally appeared at

I have read two other books by Frances O'Roark Dowell and I thought they were great (The Secret Language of Girls and The Kind of Friends We Used To Be). When I picked up this book at the library a week ago, I had high expectations. Overall, this book was...decent. I'm glad to have read it would probably wouldn't read it again.

The Second Life of Abigail Walker has many good qualities. I really liked the main character Abigail and I enj
May 25, 2014 Kerrie rated it it was ok
I couldn't quite give this 3 stars. I wanted to like this more than I did. I appreciated the lesson abby learns about the medium girls, that those who try so hard to make others miserable are really the miserable ones. However, there were some things about this book that just didn't quite make sense or sit right with me. The fox, for one, kind of confused me. I feel like kids might get confused about this element too. Maybe this book is supposed to be part of the magical realism genre but I thin ...more
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-confidence
Abby's having a rough time in 6th grade. She's a little on the plump side, and the group of mean girls in her class make her life miserable, especially after she decides to distance herself from them. Unfortunately, she doesn't really have an advocate at home, either. Her mom can't handle unhappiness and doesn't believe Abby when she tries to tell her mom what she's up against. And her dad is embarrassed by Abby's body shape and is constantly on her case to eat less and exercise more.

When Abby h
Sep 05, 2014 Susie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seemed like this book couldn't decide what it wanted to be: bullying? fantasy? PTSD? It just didn't meld that together for me. The saddest part was that Abigail seemed so detached from her parents. I expected some resolution with her dad, which didn't happen. Why didn't she just tell her parents the truth about some simple things Kristen did to her? How did she obtain all of her cached candy? The fox was a weird dimension; what effect did its bite really have? Was there really a fox? I think ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
Worth reading, but I felt like it was missing pieces. It had the potential to be really good, but maybe caved to the pressure to be a "small" book. I wonder if the pieces that would have really filed out the story were edited out or never there to begin with.
I wanted to give this 3 stars but the ending frustrated me so and left me confused - dissatisfied - dissapointed. I kept expecting some revelation about the fox because it was just so weird. I decided it was intriguing in the middle of the book but then it was just weird at the end. The rest of the story was well-written so I knew the author must have a very good reason for the magical fox situation. When it was finally revealed, my response was "really?" - "really???" What does that have to do ...more
Dec 15, 2015 Aina rated it really liked it
The Second Life of Abigail Walker tells a story of Abigail, a tubby twelve-year-old. Her well-meaning but completely clueless parents and mean girls at school make her feel completely miserable and worthless every single day because of her weight. Yet she finds the courage (with a quiet encouragement from a wise fox, yes, a fox) to break away from a circle of “medium” girls and makes friends with a homeschooled boy Anders, whose father, Matt, suffers from a mental illness after the Iraq war. Tog ...more
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What did You Think of this Book? 1 3 Jan 07, 2013 12:14PM  
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Frances O'Roark Dowell is an author of middle-grade fiction. Her books have received numerous awards, including an Edgar (Dovey Coe), the William Allan White Award (Dovey Coe), the Christopher Award (Shooting the Moon), the Voya Book Award (Where I'd Like to Be), the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children's Fiction, Honor Book (Shooting the Moon), an
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