Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head” as Want to Read:
Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  996 ratings  ·  190 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
Paperback, 267 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Seal Press
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 Stranger Here, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Stranger Here

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  996 ratings  ·  190 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head
Jen Larsen
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
totally unbiased rating.
Feb 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-books
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
Jul 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
This book was a complete waste of my time. I kept expecting to learn something about either weight loss surgery or the psychology that goes with changing your body so quickly, but the author is completely shallow and unlikable.

Basically, a chain-smoking, alcoholic, self-centered, promiscuous woman who is very heavy buys into the idea that her life will completely change if she has weight loss surgery. It does, in fact, change. She becomes a chain-smoking, alcoholic, self-centered thin woman who
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
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, memoir
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
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Amy Softa
Mar 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nf
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
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Shawn Sanders
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
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.
Julie Rautio smith
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
I liked this memoir about Jen Larsen and her experience with bariatric surgery. I found her voice relatable and authentic, self aware enough not to gloss over her own faults, and brave in describing the negative aspects not only of being obese, but of the physical ramifications of the surgery that I feel like people don't talk about/educate people about when they're looking into it as a treatment option. Honestly, this book pulls no punches about the constant stomach issues post surgery and I be ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-book, 2013
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
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own
Gross and funny, sweet and insightful, nuanced and compelling. Just like its author.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Was on course for four stars...then I got to the preachy, annoying end.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I am a post-op weight loss surgery patient, and I am pretty knowledgeable about the topic.

Left: January 2015 (300lbs) Right: October 2015 (170lbs)
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass

First and foremost, this novel is a memoir written by a woman that chose to undergo weight loss surgery in her early 30's; it is NOT the definitive guide to weight loss surgery. In fact, the author had a rare form of weight loss surgery called the duodenal switch, and even in 2015, most bariatric surgeons in the US
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever had weight, self-esteem or body image issues; memoir mavens

In Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head, Jen Larsen recounts, in painful detail, the steps leading to the weight loss surgery which saw her lose 180 pounds. (I’ve used the passive tense, because Jen’s body seemed hell-bent on shedding her excess weight despite her non-compliance with the post-surgery diet and exercise guidelines.)

That disconnect between mind and body is the underlying theme in the first part of the book. As she finishes her novel, Je

Bibi Rose
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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.....
Mo Pie
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Weight is a complex issue, and Jen tackles it with humor and heart and honesty. She and the book are both awesome.
M.J. Groves
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This book messed with MY head. First, let me say Ms. Larsen is unflinching in her self-assessments, and I am happy for her improved health as a result of the weight loss. She tells her story well and I appreciate her vulnerability in laying it all out there. Thank you for trying to help me understand, but I confess I'm still baffled. The book was interesting because it exposed the author's thinking, her habits, her willful self-destruction. But as a physician I had a rough time accepting my own ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: book combination mistake 3 17 Jun 19, 2015 03:08PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • You've Been Volunteered: A Class Mom Novel
  • Buried Deep
  • Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: An Introvert's Year of Living Dangerously
  • Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds
  • The Swallows
  • The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America
  • True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World
  • Poison Orchids
  • Love at First Like
  • Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image
  • Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating
  • Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor
  • Ninth and Nowhere
  • Lending a Paw (A Bookmobile Cat Mystery, #1)
  • Spouse on Haunted Hill (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery, #8)
  • Bones Behind the Wheel: A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery (Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries)
  • The Hostess with the Ghostess (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery, #9)
  • The Current
See similar books…
Jen Larsen is the author of Future Perfect and 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 Vancouver, BC. Find her at

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
30 likes · 21 comments
“Oh, shit. I would have to tell my mother. I could have gone for the rest of my life without ever telling her. I could have said, lean protein! and long walks! and felt shitty forever. I was used to carrying around that low-grade sense of having done something wrong.” 0 likes
“And yet here I was, in a whole new life. Not fat. I had finally gotten what I wanted. Every day I tried to drown that idea.” 0 likes
More quotes…