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45 Pounds

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Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

272 pages, Hardcover

First published July 11, 2013

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About the author

K.A. Barson

2 books125 followers
K.A. Barson graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She and her husband live in Jackson, Michigan, surrounded by kids, grandkids, unruly dogs, and too many pairs of shoes.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 885 reviews
July 25, 2013
Empathy: Noun;
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

I'm not going to insult the main character of this book by saying, "I empathize with her." I cannot. I don't know what it's like to be fat. I don't know what it's like to experience snide comments about one's weight from a complete stranger. I don't know the mortification of trying on a dress a few sizes too small and then, horror of all horrors, becoming stuck in it. I don't know what it is like to have a perfectionist mother, who is constantly trying to put their daughter on a diet plan since before their age even reached two digits. I don't know the pain and self-loathing the main character feels as she fails repeatedly in her attempts to lose weight, only to let herself down time after time, in a self-sabotaging, vicious cycle of emotionally eating yet another slice of cheesecake that she can't even taste.

...and I don't know if I can write a positive review about this beautifully written book without sounding like a thin-privileged asshole, but here is my attempt.

I loved this book. It will not change your world, it will not make you weep crazy tears, but it will make you make you smile, it will make you think, and it will make you cringe (in a good way!) from secondhand embarrassment as you suffer alongside Ann as she goes through the awkwardness that is adolescence.

Despite the emphasis our society puts on weight and the multibillion dollar industry on it, heavy heroines are extremely uncommon in literature. When's the last time you saw a truly fat character on a cover? Even in this book with its overweight, 185 pounds heroine, the character's body is covered up in a pile of clothes, so that we see more clothes than person because god forbid there should ever be a gross fat character on the cover of a book that is expected to be sellable, right?

More often than not, the fat characters in books hate themselves, and Ann is no exception. She is a teenager, flawed, contrary, smart-mouthed, and complete with teenaged insecurities on top of her issues about being Size 17. Ann is not the most likeable character. She is not intended to be. It is a difficult age, and Ann's family and background is well-presented enough for the reader to get a true sense of how she became the person she is, and why she turns to food for comfort. Her constant excuses got on my nerves at time, her procrastination, her attitude of "why do today what you can do tomorrow" attitude annoyed me, but she is such a typical flawed teenager, and I never found myself hating her despite wanting to shake some sense into her at times. But adolescence is a time for growth, for maturity, for self-understanding, and I truly feel her character is so well-developed throughout the book.

Ann's awkwardness is just legendary, it's half the fun reading this book; I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I read her uninhibited verbal flops during a job interview.

"'At first, I thought you were a guy.' Then I try to backtrack. 'Not that you look like a guy.' And end up making it worse. 'Even though your hair is really short.' I wish she’d say something, anything, and end my blathering, but she doesn’t. 'I like your hair. I mean, it’s super cute. It’s just Ryann is usually a guy’s name.' More giggling. 'I bet you get that all the time.'"

I did not find this book preachy. Despite the topic, despite the premise of losing weight, this book does not emphasize the fact that in order to be happy, in order to love yourself, you must be thin.

Ann's attempts at weight loss is not straightforward, she is a pro at this. Her mother is a perfectionist, practically a Stepford Wife. It is clear from the very beginning that Ann's emotional connection with weight loss stems from her mother and her family, as well-intentioned as they may be. Her mother is the beautiful, immaculate type who constantly whines about being fat even though she has never been anywhere near fat; she never eats more than a few bites, constantly berates Ann on the size of her portions, and has placed Ann on some type of diet or another since she noted that her daughter was growing into a rather chubby child. For the majority of her life, Ann has had to deal with her mother's issues over Ann's weight, and consequently, it becomes her problem as well.

I loved the fact that the teens in this book are not stereotyped into your typical high school cliques. Ann may be fat, but she is not ostracized at school because of it; she is intelligent, she is funny, and she has friends of her own, even if some friends are more of the frenemy types, like Cassie. The popular girls are not all mean bitches, the guy she crushes on is not omg-so-hot, and even if she has giddy feelings for him at first sight, it doesn't feel like insta-love, more like a schoolgirl's giddy infatuation, and not those of the soul-mates variety.

And he's normal. How refreshing is that? A little taller than she is, brownish hair, a little chunky, not a marble god. Attraction is not purely physical; and the author has my appreciation for giving us average characters.

My favorite part about this book? The cast of family, and the glimpses into Ann's past. It made me understand her so much better. The portrayal of her family is so ridiculously well done. I absolutely loved them. Her chain-smoking grandma with the unfortunate habit of calling everyone a "fat-ass" (not helpful for Ann), her complicated brother and his deliberately provocative and rocky relationship with their parents, her "perfect" stepfamily with the politically aspirational and well-meaning stepfather, the little twins Liberty and Justice (AKA Libby and Judd; I said their father is an aspiring politician, didn't I?), the supportive gay aunt and her lovely soon-to-be wife, the step-grandmother who redefines passive-aggressiveness (the breakfast scene is awesome), and above all, Ann's complex relationship with her mother.

Despite Ann's mother's overbearing attempts at changing her daughter by making her lose weight, you get the sense that her mother truly loves her. Ann's mother is not perfect, even if she appears that way. She has had a hard life, she's a little bitter (ok, more than a little bitter) at the ex-husband who left her and two tiny kids, she's trying to do her best to be a wife and mother, and she truly tries to do well by Ann. They have a rocky relationship, more often than not Ann's mother is distracted by her husband, by the little twins. She is not always there for Ann when Ann needs her, and sometimes she is just too present when Ann just wants to push her away during her darkest moments.

"'We don't have to buy a dress here.' Mom's voice is quiet, comforting. Tears stream down my cheeks. Uncontrollably. 'Let me in, honey. I'll help you get the dresses back on the hangers.'
Next thing I know my picture-perfect-Barbie-doll mom is army crawling under the door of the dressing room. Raspy giggles escape around the lump in my throat. She inches over, carefully avoiding the dresses, and tries to put her arm around me. I pull closer to the corner, away from her, but she still tries.
'So these don't fit,' she says. 'We'll go somewhere else.'
'It won't matter,' I whisper into my knees. The tears start up again. Why does she have to be nice? Why can't she just wait outside and let me have a good cry? I don’t want to talk about this. Especially not with her. She doesn't understand how I feel. Not even close. I don't want to hear her act all sympathetic like she gets it."

Recommended for those who want a well-written YA book with an enjoyable cast that will leave you feeling happy, and full.
Profile Image for Christina (Ensconced in Lit).
984 reviews289 followers
April 28, 2013
I unexpectedly received this book in the mail a few days ago from Penguin Teen and was curious about it, so immediately picked it up. This is my favorite kind of book-- I go in with no expectations, and come out, moved.

45 Pounds by K.A. Barson is about every girl Ann, who is overweight, wears a size 17, and is incredibly embarrassed about it. She has a stick thin perfect mother who has apparently never worried about weight her entire life, and has difficulty making new friends. She's struggled through many different diets, but this one is different-- her aunt has a wedding coming up, and Ann is determined to fit into a cute bridesmaid dress. This all seems very stereotypical to teen literature, but this book takes a generic idea and makes it new.

I admit that the first 100 pages were very painful for me to read on so many different levels. Ann is the perfect teen protagonist-- very insecure with many flaws, but with so much room to grow. She's like any of us were when we were at the awkward teenager stage where all we wanted to do was belong. I'll be honest-- I almost wanted to put it down because reliving those years was not my idea of relaxation. But then midway, something changes. Ann realizes that her sphere is larger than just around herself and that everyone has their own history, their own insecurities, their own fears. Barson introduces some really wonderful supporting characters-- Raynee, Ann's new friend, was probably my favorite of them all, and they take this book to a new level. The writing is crisp and the pacing makes absolute sense.

The resolution of this book is perfect-- and it brought tears to my eyes. In contemporary YA, the characters are the center of stories, and this book is chock full of it.

Overall, a book bursting through the seams with heart, courage, and depth that I was not expecting. A must read.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,651 followers
July 6, 2013
Weight issues in YA are generally really poorly handled. In fact, I can only think of a couple of heroines who aren't very skinny. Considering what a big issue weight is in American society, it's rather startling how few books there are that take that perspective and deal with it in an open, feeling, non-shaming way, and the only book I can think of aside from 45 Pounds is The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, which isn't remotely our society. Though I know there are some others I haven't read, 45 Pounds is still a much-needed book that takes a heartbreaking look at insecurities, where they come from, and what to do about them.

K. A. Barson's debut novel has incredibly strong characterization. From page one, Ann's personality shines through. She's rather funny and intelligent, but, more than anything, she's a mound of insecurities and self-hatred. If, like me, you hated pretty much everything about yourself at some point in your life, you will feel for Ann; I ached and part of me was right back in that place. If you never went through that, I suspect it will be really hard to really comprehend how Ann could think that way about herself. From my own experiences, Ann's thought patterns are wholly accurate. They are also frustrating. She makes so many bad choices, but not for the sake of the plot, the sort of well meaning bad choices that are a part of growing up.

Ann really does have a problem with food, and Barson shows this very well. The root of Ann's dietary issues stem from her family. Any stressful situation sends her to the food, a response programmed into her from childhood, one she can't quit, though she wants to. Unhappy with the way she looks, Ann tries fad diet after fad diet, losing a few pounds and then falling off the wagon. These diets aren't sustainable, so she can never stick to them. I've seen this same issue with friends who try to follow this or that diet. They work, but they're so strict that they're not manageable long term.

With regards to weight, Barson's messages are very positive, if slightly preachy. She promotes health above all, and happiness. Ultimately, the most successful diets will be ones of moderation, but of real, day-to-day food. Also, when Ann really comes to dieting, she comes at it from both a personal and a psychological standpoint, rather than just the desire to look better, which tends to be outweighed by the deliciousness of burgers and the ease of not exercising. Barson emphasizes that a person cannot be forced to change their thinking, and that putting too much pressure, one way or another, on someone's diet is liable to make things worse rather than better. What's great too is that, though Ann does want to lose weight and be skinny and pretty, her goal weight is actually always set a couple of pounds above the high end of "healthy weights" for her height, showing that those are just numbers and that varies from person to person.

For readers who have been disappointed by the lack of familiar focus in young adult fiction, 45 Pounds has a very strong focus on that. Ann's parents are divorced, and she lives with her mother, step-father, and twin siblings. Her brother, Tony, fought with both sets of parents and has been a no-show since he left for college. Ann has huge issues with her mother. Though her mother really does care, she ends up being a really unhealthy influence on Ann and the kids. It's a great example of how even loving families and good intentions can come out skewed. The resolution between Ann and her mother was really satisfyingly handled.

On top of that, there's also a wonderful aspect that deals with friendship. First of all, I am happy to inform you that Ann isn't a social outcast because she's a size 17. In fact, most people are really nice to her and like her; she's not popular, but she can sit at just about any lunch table she wants. So many authors make the fat kid an outcast, but that's really not always the case, and not a healthy attitude to model. Anyway, Ann's best friend, Cassie, changed schools, which has led to them growing apart. At her summer job, Ann has befriend Raynee, a much more popular girl. Watching those two form a bond as they realized just how terribly their supposed best friends treated them was touching.

Even more exciting on some levels, Ann actually gets a boy! A cute one, at least to her, though I suspect from a couple of hints that he's likely not model hot or anything like that. He sounds like a sweet, average boy to me. She meets the boy on her first day at work when she messes up his pretzel, and he's so polite and kind about that. He never looks down on Ann for her weight, but he's also not a manicpixiedreamboy, because he's sort of awkward and really takes his time about things. Their romance is kept on the backburner to the rest of the plot, but I found it convincing and really liked the moral that there's someone for everyone. All guys aren't attracted to thin girls, and I say this as someone who has sat in on guy talk on multiple occasions. Though generally I don't think romance needs to be in every book, I'm very glad there was one here.

My one reservation with 45 Pounds is that some plot elements did seem to disappear or not get as fully resolved as I would have liked. For example, there was a big build up of stuff with Ann's brother, but very little actually happens with that. Similarly, Ann's father and his step-family comes up a couple of times, but I felt like there should have been more to it. These are very minor issues and were not huge detractors.

K. A. Barson's debut is full of heart and encourages both healthy diets and relationships. Barson tackles weight issues in a sympathetic way, while also covering themes of friendship and family. 45 Pounds is an excellent novel for young adults, both well-written and well-characterized.
Profile Image for Becca ~BS BOOK REVIEWERS~.
470 reviews7 followers
June 5, 2013
45 Pounds (more or less) by K.A. Barson

Let me start out by saying that this book needs to be read by every woman in America (15-80). Ann Galardi is an overweight teen the blurb says she is 16 and a size 17. I can relate because I remember in my 4th grade God Bless America play we had to wear a red white or blue dress and my mother taking me shopping just to find that there were not any dresses in those colors that fit. I ended up getting a maternity navy and white striped shirt and wore it as a dress. I will never forget that day, my mother had to alter the pregnancy panel and I didn’t understand why she bought a new dress for me and had to sew it back together. As a matter of fact she made a lot of my clothes, but I just thought that I was special, not fat. That was in the late 80’s early 90’s. I don’t know what I would have done if I was born any later with all the body image issues of today. Needless to say that I can relate to Ann, hell I was her.
to see the rest of this review go to www.bsreviewers.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Katrina Passick Lumsden.
1,779 reviews12.8k followers
November 17, 2013
An OK look at eating disorders and body image mania, but I felt it was at times a bit heavy-handed. Subtlety can go a long way, and this book has all the subtlety of a group of nuns in a strip club. And to be totally honest, I got a little tired of Ann's whining, and found her healthy turnaround a bit abrupt considering she'd spent most of her life eating her feelings. She needs therapy, but that would be messy and, I suppose, not fit the storyline...? I have yet to figure out why authors don't take the plunge and send characters like this to shrinks. Even if it's just mentioned, we'll get the sense that someone is helping the girl. It's unrealistic to believe someone with that many issues involving food would just wake up one day and get over it.

Profile Image for Bryce.
18 reviews12 followers
August 20, 2013
This is definitely one of those books that I wished would have done better with the issues it faced. Ann is easy to relate too, having been a fat teen myself. But the resolution left much to be desired.

Overall, this read like a hopeful story by a narrator still entrenched in diet culture, hoping against hope that she understands what the goal of self-acceptance looks like. I'm not sure she does.
Profile Image for Alanna (The Flashlight Reader).
418 reviews77 followers
July 10, 2013
This book is a must read. Period. I loved everything about it! Everything.

Ann is hilarious. She is so real, it will be hard not to relate to her. The opening scene begins with her bathing suit shopping while her mom picks up a "motivational" teeny tiny bikini for Ann. This is not Ann's idea of motivation to lose weight. It's a nagging reminder of how far she is from being able to wear anything in that department store.

Who hasn't felt like that at some point, right?

45 Pounds starts off being about Ann deciding to lose weight, but it quickly becomes so much more. There are so many subtle subplots that add a rich depth to the characters and the story. It's really hard to say what was my favorite part overall. Ann starts out on a journey to meet a goal, but in the process she learns some tough lessons about true friendship, her mother, family, and what it means to be 'healthy'.

I just want to gush about how amazing this book is! I can't stop myself. I had no idea what it would be like when I started reading. I figured there would be a snarky narrator, but I got more than that. I found real emotion and a positive message.

Everyone should read this book. We can all relate. As women, we are so hard on ourselves about our weight. Often, we don't realize what our subtle messages and attitudes toward food do to those around us. Parts of this book were a total eye opener for me, because I realized I was guilty of some of these things. Who would have thought that an adult could have learned a lesson about life from a YA novel?

Go get a copy!
Profile Image for lifebymaddie.
255 reviews22 followers
January 11, 2014
I reallly hate to start rating books two-stars so early into my 2014 reading year (whoo, whoo!) but the more I think about this, the more it leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. The whole book--despite the quote on the cover that says it's funny--was anything but. I maybe laughed once. More than anything, the main character--Ann--was just pitiful. And her supporting cast? An even bigger group of pitiful, unlikable characters--aside from Raynee, who really was the best thing about this book.

The plotline was just okay, and although the story was interesting enough to keep me reading, the writing left a lot to be desired. Perhaps Barson's style just isn't one I enjoyed reading. It was more narrative than anything, and really, really choppy. It didn't flow as well as it could have.

I read a book called Fat Cat at this time last year, and I gave it five stars. It was really similar, but the differences lie in the fact that the character herself was likable, her family and friends were likable (that I remember) and I really just liked the storyline better.

Edit: I see, scrolling through the Goodreads reviews, that I'm in the minority here. Oh, well. I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy this book. It felt like a chore at times--exhausting to read about Ann's eating habits. :P
Profile Image for Renae.
1,013 reviews257 followers
May 16, 2016
This book is just so good, so smart, well-written, honest, and real—I can’t understand why it didn’t make a bigger name for itself when it was first released. Though, of course, I honestly stayed away, thinking that this was going to be too focused on weight loss and body image to the point of being a “message” book (the way Fat Cat , admittedly an amazing book, did). But while 45 Pounds is certainly about Ann’s plan to lose weight for her aunt’s wedding, I never once felt like Barson was focusing too much on Ann’s obsession with food and weight. Rather, this is a book about a young woman navigating a particular summer in her life, as she tries to fit in with her family, get some kind of job, make new friends, maybe get a cute guy’s number, and also find a bridesmaid’s dress that isn’t horrifying. 45 Pounds shines because of how the everydayness of Ann’s life becomes a story, one that maybe you can’t see your own life mirrored in, but one that nevertheless seems very true.
Profile Image for Susane Colasanti.
Author 14 books4,013 followers
December 6, 2012
With both humor and depth, the story of Ann's resilence, determination, and strength will inspire readers on their own journey toward a sparkly new life.
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,406 reviews146 followers
July 23, 2021
4 stars.

This turned out to be really rather good. It starts with the main character, Ann, seeing an infomercial on tv for a diet program that has all the typical stereotype characteristics of a diet and weight loss company.

-Way over priced and turns out to cost way way more than the viewer is made to believe.

-Unrealistic 'results guaranteed!'.

- 'real life stories' of people who did the companies program and 'lost all this weight!'.

- Crappy crappy cardboard food that looks NOTHING like it is ment to.

- and of course, it is really difficult to cancel your membership once you sign up.

And that is just the beginning.

Ann falls prey to this scheme and signs up for this 'amazing' (major eye roll) program and truly believes it's going to make her lose a bunch of weight. Just. Like. That.

While we follow Ann and her experience with this, we learn more about her and her family and so many of us could relate to her thoughts and feelings. Anyone who has ever dieted will relate to so much of this.

The story also includes Ann's 4 yr old sister, (who has a twin brother), who picks up very quickly on words said by both Ann and expecually the mother. This turns out to be a rather scary, but eye opening, part of the story which sees Ann making another big decision and turning a corner in her weight loss journey.

We learn that losing weight is not due to a diet program, but by improving your mental relationship with yourself and food.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who feels they need to diet and deprive themselves in order to lose weight. Because that will NEVER work. No diet program that tries to tell you their program is a miracle program and guaranteed to make you lose weight (and your mental sanity!), will ever work. You have to work on what's behind your relationship with food before your outcome over trying to lose weight, will work. Often you need to heal your brain before you try to fix how you look. This book shows an insight into that and it's why I would recommend it.
Profile Image for Mila.
770 reviews66 followers
August 10, 2018
I have been overweight almost my entire life and I believe this book represents the daily struggles of girls like me and Ann quite well. I actually wish that at the age of 16 I had a more similar mindset to Ann's at the end of the book because I actually developed orthorexia and then BED at the same age. Coming in terms with my appearance and my body in general and balancing out my mental and physical health is something I still have to do almost every single day. But I hope more overweight girls will learn to love themselves and be happy in this weight-obsessed world because I already love each and one of them.
Profile Image for Anna.
581 reviews76 followers
May 27, 2017
I wanted to like this more than I did but Ann's spending habits were atrocious, and this is coming from a jobless teenage girl who is a little too fond of retail therapy for someone who looks like a monkey in a paper bag and also happens to be perpetually broke.
Profile Image for Arminzerella.
3,734 reviews86 followers
December 26, 2013
Ann Galardi is sixteen and deals with all of her problems by overeating. Her mother also has an unhealthy relationship with food, though, in the opposite direction (she’s practically anorexic). Both of them constantly worry about being/becoming overweight and have very negative fattitudes. When Ann learns that her lesbian aunts are getting married, she decides to make her own commitment – to losing 45 lbs – before the wedding. She purchases a diet and meal plan from an infomercial, and has to get a job in order to afford the monthly charges. It helps her lose the first 17 pounds, but Ann finds her resolve slipping away whenever she’s faced with a new emotional challenge. She dumps the plan, but adopts new, healthier eating habits and practices (exercise!) when she overhears her little sister talking to her stuffed animals:

“No, Teddy,” she scolds. “No more cake for you. You are too fat already…” “Want some cake?” she asks a doll. She waits a moment, as if the doll is saying something. “No, I’m not having any. I am too fat. I can’t eat cake. I am going to be a flower girl in Aunt Jackie’s wedding. I have to be on a diet. That’s what you do. You don’t eat food. You say, ‘No, no, I couldn’t eat another bite.’” (p. 180)

In the process of modeling healthier behavior for her sister, Ann is also able to stand up for herself and have important conversations with other people in her life – fixing a lot of the problems that have been at the root of her overeating. Bravo!

While this story ultimately has a positive message about healthy eating and attitudes, be forewarned -
the characters really condemn and vilify being overweight.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bobbieshiann.
313 reviews88 followers
October 26, 2017
i know this book is fiction but they made the main character ann everything we as women face everyday. there’s the insecurities, the troubles with gaining and losing weight, the everyday struggles of being judged or judging yourself before someone else can, being scared to speak up for yourself, lack of women empowerment, and so much more! i was angry for this character and angry at this character. it just shows what happens when we don’t put ourself first and we seek love and approval from others before we even learn to really acknowledge and love ourselves.

what does bother me a lot is that this book is about a girls journey through weight loss and family/friends problems throughout the summer and even though ann is finding herself and working through things, there has to be a damn boy in the picture. i wish it just focused on ann and did not have a boy in the story because it’s so typical and seems so pointless to me.
Profile Image for Demitria Lunetta.
Author 54 books900 followers
January 26, 2013
Recommended for fans of: YA Contemporary

This book really hit home. It’s not just for teens that have struggled with their weight, but for anyone who has ever had a problem in life they felt they had no control over. Ann’s just happens to be her weight. She thinks that all of her troubles will be solved if she can just lose 45 pounds. Even with the low self esteem, she’s a very likeable MC, easy to relate to. She’s also a bit clueless. I love how Ann’s character develops throughout the book, as she learns more about herself, her friends, and her family. She discovers that she’s not as alone in her struggles as she thought. A very satisfying read!
Profile Image for TheYALibrarian.
295 reviews133 followers
October 21, 2013
This book I devoured in a day. After reading so many paranormal teen books I thought it would be interesting to get out of that genre and read something different. I am very glad that I did. This book is so relatable its scary. Like many teenagers I struggled with my self esteem and always thought I needed to lose weight. Ann's personality pretty much mirrored my own and I have never had that occur to me in a book before. I give a two thumbs up for K.A Barson for nailing her first novel for that can be difficult for many authors to accomplish. On that note I highly recommend this quick, funny, and heartfelt novel.
Profile Image for Brigid.
Author 33 books14.3k followers
November 11, 2013
I loved this book.

I had a whole review written, and fabulous Goodreads just deleted it.

Basically, this author gets that being fat is not as simple as a lack of self-control. I think this was a brilliant debut, and I'm so glad I got to read it. One of the best books I've read this year. I loved every single character.

Read it. You won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Gillian.
458 reviews1,069 followers
July 14, 2013
4.5 stars

Originally posted at Writer of Wrongs

Rating: Hilarious, heartfelt, and so emotionally true. Anybody who has ever felt self-conscious about the way he or she looks (so... everyone) will be able to relate.

The cover: It's cute! It didn't necessarily grab me, and it caused me to pass on requesting this on Netgalley (stupid, stupid, stupid!), but that's my own problem. I love the butter yellow and the two font titles, though I wish you could see more of Ann.

The story: I'm IN LOVE with this book, with the voice, the messages, the plot. Everything It was a super delightful read that's also very moving. Never does 45 Pounds become overly preachy. It's merely one girl's journey towards shedding not just pounds, but her obsession with food and looks and her crippling self-doubt. And most of all, this book is about family. It certainly does promote a healthy way of dieting and dealing with your body, though.

Family: Ann's parents split up when she was two. She doesn't have much to do with her dad's new family, and she feels abandoned by him and her older brother. Her mother has also remarried and has two four-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and Ann lives with them. Her mother, really, is the seat of all of Ann's food- and body-related insecurities (of which there are A LOT). Ann is a size seventeen, she tends to eat for comfort, and her mother's favorite topic of conversation is weight. It's all she and Ann think about, and it seriously takes its toll on Ann.

I loved the relationship between Ann and her mother. It was realistic and semi-dysfunctional. They both clearly love each other, but they both have so much to learn. And it's really only when Ann realizes that her mother's weight obsession is affecting Ann's four-year-old sister that she really decides to make some changes about her mentality. The book also focuses on Ann's relationship to her half-siblings, stepfather, aunt, grandmother, and estranged father and brother.

Self image and health: I can count on one hand the number of YA books I've read with overweight heroes or heroines (The Girl of Fire and Thorns; Holes; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things; um...) and even fewer that focus on health and weight specifically, which is crazy, because this is America, and obesity is an epidemic and all that lovely stuff. But Barson decided to tackle this hefty topic (ARGH, NO PUN INTENDED), and I have to say she pulled it off perfectly. Ann's logic is twisted and so spot-on. Her insecurities are deeply-seeded, but so brutal and realistic. All her struggles with her weight, and people's reactions to her weight.

Ann: Ann was by far the best part of this book. Her voice is funny and earnest. Her thoughts about herself are so sad, but she says them so funnily. I mean, she won me over by about page five, when she described getting stuck in a dress in possibly the funniest way ever.

She's what makes this book fun. The first half in particular could have been difficult, because Ann lives with a lot of very thoughtless people, some of whom can be outwardly cruel, but because Ann is so delightful, it didn't kill me. Oh, believe me, I felt for her. I was Team Ann from the get-go. This is a girl with flaws that you root for so wholeheartedly, and you want to smack everybody who treats her badly very hard in the face. You want to pull her out of her damaging ways and get her to break her damaging patterns, even when you understand them (I have a tendency to eat my feelings as well, and that is a HARD cycle to break).

I also loved that Ann was not the only fully-rounded character. Ann's friends and even her nemeses had depth to them. I was particularly impressed with the layer to Ann's stepsister, Naomi. There was character development in places I wasn't expecting it. There were struggles with Ann's friends that also felt very real and central to the plot.

A blush of romance: I am usually the girl who ALWAYS wants more kissing, more romance, more swoons, but the fact that this one took a backseat to Ann's personal journey was a good choice. Even though this awkward little romance was the cutest. It felt realistic and fumbly and mortifying, but it also made me squeal. And I love that the guy just honestly sincerely liked her. As her. As she is, as she looks.

Things were wrapped up probably a little too neatly and sweetly at the end, but I didn't really mind. I liked the cuteness. I wanted that
after Ann went through such a tough emotional journey in this book. there is the possibility for slight eye rolling with how saccharine it gets, but I was in the mood for that, and it just made me happy. This whole BOOK made me happy. Thank you times a million, Christina, for sending it to me! I'm putting it on the "favorites" shelf. This book's earned it.
Profile Image for Farah Jay.
183 reviews177 followers
July 15, 2013
If you have been following our blog for a while, you would have remembered this book from our previous Waiting on Wednesday pick. All over the world, teens are having problems with weight. The media puts a lot of pressure on teens, and how the "perfect" image is to have the "perfect" body and the "perfect" face. That's where a lot of girls either starve themselves or go on extreme diets, but they never really think about their health. I come from an extremely healthy family, and reading books that help teens understand the importance of health makes me happy. Ann is a size 17. Ann's mother is a perfect size 6. Ann's parents are divorced, and she lives with her mother and her stepfather. Ann also has two step siblings. Being the only one who is overweight, Ann struggles to really be able to feel comfortable. Her mother constantly talks about weight. She talks about weight in front of her, when they're eating, and even when they're shopping. Escaping her mother's drama once in a while, Ann goes to hang out at her grandmother's house. There, she watches an infomercial about weight loss, and Ann decides to buy the package that includes frozen meals and exercise CD's. I really liked that Ann really did want to lose weight not only for her mother, but for herself. What really gives Ann a push is that her Aunt's wedding is in 10 weeks, and her aunt wants her to be her bridesmaid.

After receiving the S2S weight loss packages, Ann really starts setting her goals. I like how determined Ann was, and I was thrilled that she was doing it without anyone knowing. I felt really happy when Ann started to actually lose the weight. She tried to change her whole lifestyle step by step. Ann got a new job, and even got new friends. I just loved how a simple change can really change you into a positive person. All that aside, there is that cute guy Ann met on her day working. I loved the romance that was included in this book, and I have to say, it was one of the cutest, most adorable romances I have read in a while. 45 Pounds really talked about all sorts of things, but there was a very important thing as well. K.A. Barson didn't just want Ann to "lose" weight, she also wanted her to change her lifestyle. Ann decided to be a role model to those around her, and start eating in a healthy way. I hope I didn't give much away, but I just had to say how much of a good message this would be to a lot of teenagers out there.

Overall, 45 Pounds was a fantastic read. It was full of friendship, hardships, family, love, and daily struggles. It wasn't just a read you fly through, but a read that actually teaches you a thing or two about life. I really would love to see more teenagers out there picking this one up, because I know a lot of girls would be able to relate to Ann and her struggles. This book really is beautiful. I may have expected a chill, funny read, but I'm glad I was able to get more than just that. I will definitely be looking forward to future books by K.A. Barson.
Profile Image for Amanda R.
725 reviews
April 15, 2013
I received this book from Net-Galley as an ARC.

I picked this book to read and was so excited when I was approved to read it. I know how Ann feels. I was and sometimes still am Ann. Ann is a teenager, that is so focused on food that its all she thinks about. She's obsessed and her mother is obsessed with what she eats, which only makes Ann more obsessed with food. Shopping is painful, having friends is non existent, well real ones anyway. Ann just feels like no one understands her, no one wants to have anything to do with her.

Not only does she deal with her weight but she deals with her parents divorce and their new families. Her mom married Mike a politician and Her dad married Nancy, better known as Godzilla. Both sets of parents have new kids and she feels like the new families are more important. When all of that started she at least had her brother Tony but now he's gone and she can't even get him to answer a Facebook message from her.

All the while Ann constantly struggles with her weight, she orders a new diet system off of an infomercial. Something about it just makes her think it will stick. Her aunt Jackie drops by one night with her girlfriend and lets everyone know that her and Chris are getting married and wants Ann to be a bridesmaid. Immediately Ann knows that means dress shopping and she knows she HAS to loose some weight so that she can fit in to a dress. She starts working out with the Secrets 2 Success (S2S) plan she ordered, she eats the food and she gets a job to fill her time. She loses weight, she works hard and slips sometimes, but she's determined.

After a while she finds that while this plan is working for her, she's learning that she can eat food that doesn't taste like cardboard and still be healthy. She also notices that what her mom and her do about food and weight is seriously screwing up her baby sister, Libby, who is four and is worried about getting fat so she doesn't eat. Ann has enough and blows up at her mom at the rehearsal dinner for aunt Jackie's wedding. Ann learns somethings about her mom that she never knew, things that explain a great deal about why her mom is so obsessed with weight.

I really enjoyed this story. Watching Ann realize that no matter what size clothes a person wears they have to be happy with themselves. There is a cute boy involved and the interactions with Jon (cute boy) are so small I don't want to let any of that slip. I will say that the butterflies that Ann gets around him, make you feel like you're a teenager yourself. Ann figures out that maybe not having her dad around all the time is a good thing, because honestly he's a dick. I really wish we could of seen more from Tony, I feel like he just left her high and dry, with out any thought. All in all I thought this books was great. Check it out!! You'll enjoy it!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,097 reviews129 followers
September 26, 2013
I can't imagine any female over the age of 13 not loving this book. I feel like we can all relate to body issues, especially those related to food. And I'm pretty sure we've all felt fat at some point (whether or not we actually are).

But Ann really is fat, and I can say that because we are about the same size and I am fat.

But that's not all there is to Ann. She's incredibly smart and funny and sweet and just a kickass person. Watching her grow as a person (while simultaneously shrinking as a person) is just amazing.

Because Ann is a teenage girl, she's pretty sure that people are judging her all the time. It's funny, because I was reading this and she would see things like people talking and then laughing and she'd be like, "I know they're talking about me," and I would think, "Ann, don't be so paranoid," and then I'd remember that she was 16 and so were the other girls, and then it was like, "Yeah, they probably are, actually."

(Oh, Ann, college will be better for you.)

I'm going to make a ridiculously high statement of praise, ready? Ann would be best friends with Jessica Darling. Yes, she's that awesome. So go read this book and let her become your new fictional best friend, too.

I loved this book to a ridiculous degree and I bet you will, too. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Tee loves Kyle Jacobson.
2,471 reviews169 followers
May 20, 2013
45 Pounds (More or Less) is the funniest book I have ever read about an issue that American Teens are facing in this skinny minny world we live in. I have lived Ann's life. I was skinny all my life until I hit 18 years old and then I gained a little weight at college and then I gained weight when I had my children and it is a nightmare. Society sees fat as disgusting and not beautiful but beauty is skin deep because being skinny is not what it is cracked up to be.

Ann is trying so hard to lose weight. She is in her aunts wedding and she is determined to lose the weight to fit in the dress and look good. But her lessons that she learns along the way are what makes this book so funny. Ann is so determined to lose the weight but she just does not know how to do it because every diet promises something and none of them come close to helping her out.

As Ann discovers her true self and learns to be comfortable in her skin she realizes that being skinny is not the answer for her. This is a book every young girl who is over weight or feels over weight should read! Take the couple hours out on the beach and read this hilarious story about a fat girl looking to be skinny!
Profile Image for Sara.
28 reviews5 followers
July 24, 2013
I'm not sure why I read this, since none of the genres or subgenres into which this book falls interest me, but I had a free evening and no desire to challenge myself intellectually, so I polished it off in an hour or so. I used to be a chubby, self-loathing teenager myself, so I felt some measure of sympathy with the protagonist, but after 200 pages of exploring the dull inner life of Ann, punctuated by intermittent oleaginous descriptions of the food she either can't or shouldn't be eating, I was ready to be done with this bit of "love yourself, HAES!" YA fluff.

Additionally, 185 pounds at Ann's 5'4" height is so common now in the United States as to be unremarkable. Any mall she could visit would be full of stores catering to girls of her size, unlike her fictional tribulations of being too fat to find any cute clothes.
Profile Image for Susan Bazzett-Griffith.
1,720 reviews45 followers
December 2, 2019
A YA library sale find about a fat girl from a dysfunctional family who has some pretty screwed up ideas about herself, and at the same time, as someone who was once a fat teenager, was a pretty accurate representation of a lot of the nastier thoughts that can run through fat girls' heads. The story isn't anything special necessarily, and there's a lot of descriptions of disordered eating and thinking that I'm not entirely sure is a good thing to put into the hands of impressionable kids (I remember how I Was a 15 Year Old Blimp basically taught my whole generation how to be bulimic- this book isn't quite as graphic and is infinitely more realistic in its portrayal of life in general, but it definitely would be appealing to the same demographic), but it is a relatable story for fat kids with low self-esteem living in a thin-obsessed world. The parts of the story dealing with her blended families on both her mom and dad's sides was a definite bright and realistic point of the book- it depicted the dysfunction as well as its affects on the kids in a non-hyperbolic and genuinely true-feeling way. 3 stars- a quick and easy read that had both strengths and weaknesses as a contemporary YA novel.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3 reviews
April 9, 2019
After a while the book became super repetitive and while it sent a good message, it was hard to get through
Profile Image for Aeicha .
832 reviews100 followers
July 11, 2013
I've always had issues with my weight, from the time I was in middle-school, all through my teen years, to even now. I was never one of the skinny girls who could just shop anywhere and find super cute clothes...so when I read the blurb for K.A. Barson's 45 Pounds (More or Less) I just new it would be relatable, and relatable it was! This YA Contemp is not only wonderfully relatable, but also funny, thought-provoking, and unexpectedly touching.

Sixteen year old Ann is a size 17 and not comfortable in her own skin. Her perfect size six mother, who is not subtle about her disappointment in Ann's weight, doesn't help Ann's situation. When Ann's aunt asks her to be a bridesmaid in 10 weeks, Ann decides she'll lose 45 pounds and fit in the perfect dress. Desperate, Ann turns to an infomercial weight loss program, which doesn't turn out to be the miracle it claims to be. A new summer job, best friend issues, family drama, and the cutest boy Ann has ever seen, all collide, creating one busy summer for Ann.

45 Pounds (More or Less) was such a fun, cute summer read! This YA Contemp isn't just about Ann's weight loss struggles, it's about family, friendship, acceptance, and self-discovery, but it isn't cheesy or too after-school special over-the-top. This is a quick read, easily consumed in one sitting, and once I began reading I didn't want to put it down. Barson writes with a smart, witty voice and has created such a likable, refreshing main character.

Ann's struggle with losing weight, her relationship with her family, and her awkward interaction with the cutest boy ever, are all so relatable and written in such an authentic way, with such charming humor. Barson deftly explores important and heavy issues, like eating disorders, bullying, and dysfunctional and broken families with a seriousness such issues deserve, but in a way that keeps the story from ever getting dark. Whether or not readers have struggled with weight issues, Ann's addicting, often hilariously cringe-worthy experiences are irresistibly entertaining and easy to relate to. Ann's home-life and various family relationships are thought-provoking and written with care.

I loved Ann a lot and saw so much of myself in her. I felt like I was standing right there with her through every awkward encounter, every painful experience, and every squee-worthy accomplishment. In many ways, Ann is pretty average, not insanely smart or wickedly snarky or a total outcast, but it's this average-ness that makes her so likable and endearing. I was easily caught up in the relationships between Ann and her various family members, especially between she and her mother, and found myself moved, surprised, frustrated (and lots of other feels) by them. However, one thing that bugged me was the way Ann often treated her younger siblings with unwarranted and unfair annoyance and impatience.

I really liked how the subtle romantic elements played out in 45 Pounds (More or Less). The romance doesn't dominate the story at all and is sprinkled throughout in just the right amounts of organic doses. The “cutest boy Ann has ever seen”, aka Jon, is super likable and the perfect mix of sweet, charming, quirky, and swoon-worthy. I loved every scene and interaction between Ann and Jon!

45 Pounds (More or Less) ends on such a wonderful, refreshing note.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: 45 Pounds (More or Less), with its authentic voice and awesome main character, was such a delight to read! I walked away from this book with the biggest smile and look forward to reading more from this debut author.
Profile Image for Regina.
399 reviews62 followers
June 13, 2013
Ann's parents have started two separate families, neither of which she feels truly a party of. Her older brother has gone away to college and seemingly disowned them all. Her best friend Cassie has found new best friends while Ann wasn't watching. But food hasn't moved an inch. Or rather it has, but those inches have been on her waistline.

Food is a welcome friend. It's something she can control, and something soothing. Something that makes the pain go away.

That is, until she's shopping with her super-skinny mom and nothing fits. She's resolved to just give up, and continue to swallow her sorrow (pun intended), until her Aunt Jackie announces that she and her partner Chris are getting married. Worse yet, she wants Ann to participate in a choreographed dance with the family during the reception AND she wants her oldest niece to stand up for her as a bridesmaid. Even worse still, they're getting married in two months.

As happy as Ann is for her aunts wedding, she can't help but to focus on the huge elephant in the room. Herself. She immediately decides that she needs to lose about 45 pounds, for her to feel and look her best at the wedding. No matter what.

Step one: Order the S2S Weight Loss System
Step two: Get a job to pay for the S2S Weight Loss System
Step three: Tell no one, let no one see you cry, and find out the name of the cute boy who keeps appearing.

As a plus-sized girl myself, I was really in tune with a lot of Ann's feelings in this funny, quick read. Her descriptions of self-consciousness and nerves were almost painful to read they were so very familiar; from fear of saying the wrong thing during a phone call, to dancing in public, Ann was a relate-able and real character. I was also impressed with the author's ability to amplify the very real every-day weight remarks that many of us wade through without realizing.

Ann's tepid family life was beautifully dysfunctional and not in so much of a predictable way that it got boring. There were also some pretty cool nods to stores like Torrid(SnapZ in the book), where the clothes function on a sliding size scale, and programs like Nutri-System(S2S) and Weight Watchers.

The very real issue of stress eating was captured realistically and weight esteem issues in general were seen from a lot of different angles. I also really liked the love story that emerged pretty sweetly and that it showed just how much when someone really likes you, they don't care about the extra things YOU may be obsessing about for yourself.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Even more so because it gently conveyed that while the weight struggle is real, the self-love struggle is even more vital.
Profile Image for Shannon Rochester.
848 reviews71 followers
October 17, 2021
Although I was not a teenager at the time, I have been in Ann's shoes to an extent. If I am being honest, I find myself once again in those shoes...I have always had a problem with food and the will power to say no to what my body is most definitely saying it wants...She is a teenager and wants to lose 45 ish pounds but can't seem to find the willpower to do it. She HAS the motivation (a wedding, a cute boy) but can't seem to take that first step. It was fun to watch her start to become a stronger person and discover who she is and who she wants to be...once you stop putting so much focus on the actual weight and just live your life, things happen as they are supposed to. Although Ann and I have this weight and body issue in common, I really couldn't connect with her most of the time...and I am pretty sure that if we had met in real life, I wouldn't want to spend much time with her.
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