Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Second Life of Abigail Walker” as Want to Read:
The Second Life of Abigail Walker
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Second Life of Abigail Walker

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  784 ratings  ·  196 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.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Second Life of Abigail Walker, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Second Life of Abigail Walker

Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
122 books — 1,312 voters
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellDumplin' by Julie   MurphyThe DUFF by Kody KeplingerFat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVosThe Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Plus-Size YA Heroines
145 books — 173 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  784 ratings  ·  196 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Second Life of Abigail Walker
Meredith Holley
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
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle Grade Readers Looking for Poignant, Open-Ended Fiction
Eleven-year-old Abigail Walker turns her back on the crowd of mean girls with whom she has been trying to ingratiate herself, since her best friend Claudia moved away, and finds that many other experiences and opportunities open up before her. Befriended by quiet Anoop Chatterjee at school, and soon part of his soccer-playing lunch crowd, she also finds a friend in homeschooled Anders Benton, who lives with his father and grandmother on a nearby farm. Almost in spite of herself, Abigail becomes ...more
Sep 19, 2012 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 ...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 ...more
Jun 18, 2012 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
Sep 14, 2012 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 ...more
Wendi (Alex) Werner
Nov 04, 2012 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.
May 21, 2012 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 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 .
Libby May
Dec 05, 2017 rated it liked it
This one was ok. The fox was adorable, and the throb in Abby’s hand was cute.
I liked her struggle with eating. It’s honestly like that for a lot of girls. Well brought up.
I didn’t like the bullies.
Why the three stars? The plot wasn’t all that great. What was the plot even? There was a fox. Abby was bullied about not being a bean pole. There was Anders and his dad. Nothing happened at the end of the book. Abby proved to her mom the girls were bullies, and Anders dad met the fox. So? That’s it?
Aug 31, 2012 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
Sep 02, 2012 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 ...more
Maddie D
Mar 26, 2013 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
Sep 21, 2012 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
Oct 31, 2012 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 ...more
Nov 16, 2012 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 ...more
Laura Phelps
Nov 10, 2012 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
Courtney M.
May 26, 2015 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
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
it was a really good book i give it a 4/5 it wasn't the best iv'e read but it was good
Jul 10, 2014 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
Jul 18, 2014 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 ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 21, 2015 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,
Sep 16, 2012 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.
Morgan Sheets
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Morgan Sheets
Book 4

Abby is a girl that people always bully because of her weight. But she tries not the let them see how much it affects her. But one day she meets the guy named Anders and his dad Matt, they want abby to help them with this project. But how can Abby say no if Matt’s sanity is a steak. But with the aid of a wise old fox, abby soon discovers a whole other life ahead of her.
Abigail stats out the book as a girl that everyone makes fun of and teases because of her weight.
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book I read for December was The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances Roark Dowell.
I did like the book it was a little confusing but managed to get through it. I like how it had some good quotes in the story and about someone's life that you can go through and see situations you had in common or things that you would want to happen. It was also interesting how they added a fox leaping to story to story and how it would travel different places that took place in the story. My favorite
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hannah S.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book wasn't my favorite, but wasn't horrible either. I felt led on by the description though, and would have liked to hear more about the fox as well as the main character, Abigail. The story just did not focus on what was interesting when it was necessary. However, it still was an interesting story, overall.
Miss Sarah
Abigail Walker has finally told her so called friends what she thinks of them and their treatment of her. Will they retaliate? This book is modern in it's theme of bullying and all it can do but told in a way that isn't too harsh and most can relate too. I love Abigail's awakening and how she isn't always confident about what to do next. Upper elementary.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What did You Think of this Book? 1 5 Jan 07, 2013 12:14PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Unteachables
  • Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims (Adventures of Rush Revere, #1)
  • In the Key of Nira Ghani
  • Santa Bruce (A Mother Bruce book)
  • Shouting at the Rain
  • A Tale of Magic... (A Tale of Magic, #1)
  • A Daughter's Place (Chatsworth #3)
  • Once a Scoundrel (Rogues Redeemed, #3)
  • You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!
  • Hotel Bruce
  • The Koala Who Could
  • Bruce's Big Move
  • Words on Fire
  • Be Quiet!
  • On the Wings of Heroes
  • I Need My Monster
  • Bruce's Big Storm
  • How I Met My Monster (I Need My Monster)
See similar books…
While Frances O'Roark Dowell (Dovey Coe, The Secret Language of Girls, Trouble the Water) is best known for her award-winning novels, she also hosts the popular "Off-Kilter Quilt" podcast, where she talks about her latest quilt projects with friends and fellow quilters around the globe. Her own little corner of the globe is Durham, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, two sons, and a ...more