Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head
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Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  536 ratings  ·  125 reviews
The brutally honest, surprisingly hilarious story of one woman's journey from one extreme of the weight spectrum to the other, and of the unexpected emotional chaos it created.

Jen Larsen always thought that if she could only lose some weight, she would be unstoppable. So when diet after diet failed, she decided to try bariatric sugery. It worked better than she ever dreame...more
Paperback, 267 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Seal Press
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As a fellow weight loss surgery patient, reading this book was like listening to someone describe a visit to a city I know very well: parts of it were exactly like my experience and had me nodding my head in agreement, and parts of it were a totally different view of the same exact thing that opened my eyes. Jen's retelling of her experience is honest (sometimes painfully so) and written in such a way that I couldn't help but tear through it in one night. It hit close to home for me, and made me...more
Jen Larsen
Feb 05, 2013 Jen Larsen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
totally unbiased rating.
EDIT: I read this book in a single day. It reminds me of I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure.

Jen Larsen has written a memoir about what it was like to have weight loss surgery and lose a great deal of weight. In her early 30s and living in San Francisco, she was aware of the Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size movement (and the back of the book lists some resources on those topics), but she seems to have felt kind of helpless to incorporate their ideas into her own life - and I can understan...more
Amy Softa
Before my review let me state that I do not read Ms. Larsen's blog and I have no plans to start reading her blog. I am critiquing her book and journey based purely on the information she shares in her book. If there is actions she took that she did not mention, before you flame me(and all flames will be ignored and I will just think you are an ass), remember I have no way of knowing about them if they were not in her book. Also I seriously doubt that my opinion is going to affect Ms. Larsen's fe...more
Jen Larsen's book was a wonderful surprise. I stumbled upon her work from a friend I met in Bali, and ordered her book pre-release, sight unseen to most of Jen's story or body of work. Once it was delivered to my kindle, I couldn't put it down! Her writing is brilliant, captivating, touching, heart-warming, brave, and funny. I read dozens of books on my two month trip abroad, and Jen's was hands-down my favorite. She tells her story with such humor and honesty, and it's one that anyone who has e...more
This book broke me. In a good way. I've been struggling with weight/body issues and self-esteem for a while now, a lot of it tied to grieving. Jen made me realize I need to get my shit together and stop wallowing (and blaming all my problems on "no one loves me because: fat").

Also, she's just a damn good writer.
Jen Larsen used to weigh over 300lbs. One day, she decided that weight loss surgery was the only way she was going to lose weight and start living her life, because obviously everything would be fixed by losing weight. Stranger Here tells the story of her weight loss journey and how she came to realise that being thin didn't fix everything.
Reading this was like sitting down with a friend over a bottle of wine and listening to them unload - very easy to read but frustrating all the same, becaus...more
Jen has been one of my favorite writers (and people) for a long time, and I was lucky enough to get to read her previous (unpublished) book, so I have been waiting impatiently for this one. She does not disappoint. I loved this book so much that I feel like saying things like, "I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me!" I did, I did, and it did. (TOTALLY better than Cats.)

I have never had or contemplated weight loss surgery, and yet so much of this book rang exactly true. If you have ever stru...more
Julie Rautio smith
While the book was a quick read, I was disappointed. The book left me with a lot of questions. Why didn't she follow through with the after care counseling? Does she still drink alcohol as much as she related in the book? What about osteoporosis? I realize this is her life and her book, it just left me with questions.
That being said, the book gave me insight into the daily side effects of the surgery. This helps me understand what several of my friends who have had the surgery cope with.
Shawn Sanders
Jen Larsen is a very dear friend and I have been a fan of her writing for years. With that said, this book touched my heart on so many levels. Even with knowing a small amount of what she went through after her surgery, reading her in-depth exploration of life after the procedure made me hopeful one minute and heartbroken the next. I would recommend it to anyone considering or who has had WLS. An absolutely gorgeous book by an equally gorgeous person.
This story offered the opposite of what I was really looking for, but I still found quite a bit to identify with in it. See, Larsen did everything wrong through the process of her weight loss surgery and yet still ended up exactly where she wanted to be, at least physically. This isn't really the story you want to hear while slogging through two years of successful weight loss, emotional eating, weight gain, struggling to get back good habits and have more weight loss... I wanted to whack her in...more
Jen Larsen is a gifted story teller. Reading this book was like sitting with a friend, drinking wine and hearing her life story. It was very easy to fall right into this book and be her cheerleader or coach on the sidelines. ("No, Jen, don't eat those Kit-Kats!" "Yeah, Jen, ride that bike, you go girl!") I am not a candidate for weight loss surgery nor need it, but I wanted to read this book b/c the basic premise, which was just love yourself no matter what size you are, really is something I ne...more
The book was good enough to finish. However, it fell short of my expectation. I was expecting to hear how being skinny complicated Jen Larsen's life more. Instead, the book stated very common knowledge.

It is easier to be skinny than be fat in this world. Well, yes. Adjusting your digestive system does not fix what is wrong in the central nervous system. Of course.

I guess Larsen didn't really under deliver. She walks you through her misery as an obese person. She illustrated her unhealthy relat...more
Did I read this through in one day? Yes, I did. Did I do it only because Jen is my friend? No. Did I do it because it was a damn good (and at times alarmingly familiar) book? Yes.

A++. Would read again. WILL read again, I'm sure.
Feb 06, 2013 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
Gross and funny, sweet and insightful, nuanced and compelling. Just like its author.
Was on course for four stars...then I got to the preachy, annoying end.
I hope that the result of books like this will be to elicit understanding and empathy of the struggle against fat that everyone who is fat goes through. And yet even I had moments of wanting to scream at her "Deal with the oral dependencies! The eating disorder! The smoking! The drinking!" which makes me as much of the judgmental jerk as anyone who has ever driven women to such depths of shame and self-hate. Of course I have dealt with smoking and drinking . . . and gotten fatter although I occa...more
Jen Larsen writes well, but she doesn't really get into what the title of the book indicates she will. There's a lot more about her pre-weight-loss life and far less about the "after." As someone who lost a lot of weight myself (but who didn't have bariatric surgery), I was more interested in reading about the familiar shock of realizing that the world indeed sees you as more intelligent, funnier and, of course, far more attractive, just because you've dropped some body weight. I also felt quite...more
This book triggered the fuck out of me. I'm glad it exists and I'm glad the author was so honest and open with her experience and feelings. But reading it knocked me down several pegs on my attempts to feel like a decent human being who also happens to be fat. The hyper focus on feeling observed and judged for appearance and weight, while viewed critically in the book, also managed to get into my head and cause some unfun drama. I thought this book was going to be a little more focused on the "f...more
Bibi Rose
Really, really good. What resonates most with me is that it's not just about changing yourself physically, but about having the courage to become an artist. Finding that balance between saying your current life isn't enough and getting so caught up in self-scrutiny that you can't move forward. I love the way the book STARTS with the type of transformation a lot of people dream about-- writing a novel-- and the letdown that comes when you've done it and you realize you're still the same person. S...more
Rebecca Coleman
This was a fascinating, very engaging story of one woman's journey through obesity and weight loss surgery. She writes candidly about the mind-scrambling aspects of losing weight rapidly, what it's like to live as an obese person, and the way the people around her were affected by the changes in her physical self. This is the best type of memoir, in which the author draws the reader into what is unique about her experiences and takes a no-holds-barred approach to telling the factual and emotiona...more
This is a very honest (at least it seems honest, guess I don't know that for sure since I wasn't actually there) memoir about the author's battle with her weight and her journey through weight-loss surgery. But, I guess that is pretty obvious from the title. I didn't feel like this was a huge eye-opening, make me suddenly happy book. But it was very readable and Larsen is very relatable. So that is something.....
The Good. Jennifer’s perspective on weight begins scenic and in a lustrous stream. The writing is chocked full of witticisms, spectacularly descriptive, and relatable. Very relatable, as in anyone working through addictions (of any kind), or toiling over feeling ostracized (for any reason) will be able to relate.

The Mmeh Okay. The eating. Reading about food and eating in this quantity and quality got a little hard on my stomach.

And still, The Best Part... what I really enjoyed, in addition to sc...more
Mo Pie
Weight is a complex issue, and Jen tackles it with humor and heart and honesty. She and the book are both awesome.
I grabbed this the second I heard about it on Facebook. Having lost a large chunk of weight myself, I have been floundering in this "new" skin, and was surprised and happy to find someone who'd written a book that might have the same thoughts I'd been having.

Jen Larsen is a very easy writer to read - she sucks you in and it read like fiction for me really, in that I couldn't put the book down and felt the story like I do fictional characters. This is most definitely a compliment, as I have a har...more
I gave this book five stars because it *is* very good and everyone should buy it so that Jen can make a million dollars and eat filet mignon at every meal and fill her bathtub with Perrier instead of tap water. But in reality the book is kind of outside the rating system for me. For the first time, I had the fairly surreal experience of reading a book in which I know--actually, physically, in person, have met and hung out with--about a third of the people in the book. I mean, I've watched the au...more
I keep debating about whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and gave it four. I loved the book... as that. A book. The writing was well done, the story was captivating and I found myself not being able to put it down. I read it in one day. However, it was not what I expected. The conclusion I got from the book was that its easier to exist in this world if you are thin. Yeah, maybe there are bigger issues behind your weight that you will have to address at...more

In Stranger Here, Jen tells us her story before and after the surgery. She thought if she were skinny her dysfunctional relationship with her boyfriend, Andy, would magically get better. She thought she would find the perfect job if she were skinny. She didn't think that she would shit herself on her way to an interview because of her weight loss surgery and she didn't really give much thought to the fact that after the surgery her dietary habits will need...more
This is a memoir by a woman who underwent a drastic weight loss surgery. She is very honest in her telling of her story, she was not emotionally or mentally prepared for the surgery, she weighed over 300 lbs. when she had the surgery.

She pretty much did everything she wasn't suppose to do before and after the surgery and still she lost the weight, the smallest she got down to was 130 lbs. and at the writing of the book she weighs 168.

This is a very interesting book because she is so honest and t...more
A woman undergoes weight loss surgery and deals with the decision to have it, as well as the after effects. I thought this was an okay, average memoir. I thought that her boyfriend was kind of a jerk, he wasn't very sympathetic or supportive of her at least initially. Not a whole lot happened other than the emotional stuff dealing with the surgery, but as someone who lost a lot of weight, it was interesting.
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Jen Larsen is the author of Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed With My Head. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco and currently lives in Madison, WI. Find her at
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