Swankivy's Reviews > 45 Pounds

45 Pounds by K.A. Barson
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really liked it

This was a quick read for me and I found it to really be the best thing a book like this can be. Usually any book that's about weight loss will go one way or the other: it will either have a person suddenly start to deserve humane treatment and happiness because they lose weight and become "acceptable," or it will go the other way completely and have the character learn that it's ridiculous to want to improve yourself in any way if you're dissatisfied with yourself, and blame the world entirely for not accepting people who take no responsibility for their own situation. This has a very good balance, especially with the emphasis it puts on how easy it is to pass disordered eating on to the next generation just based on how we talk about ourselves.

I don't want to read a book where the person who wants to lose weight doesn't ever confront the problem of why they feel that way and whether they might be doing so because of shaming and internalized hate. The main character does consider whether she inherently wants to make a change or whether she just wants people to stop saying nasty things about her. And I like that she wasn't a caricature of a fat person; sure she sometimes ate to comfort herself, but it wasn't a blatant "bad thing happened, so she ate" situation. She had fluctuating willpower and sometimes was able to resist stuff that wasn't on her diet. I also think it's cool that even though she had a weight goal and was not able to meet it by the "deadline" (being a bridesmaid), she still felt like she succeeded because she was able to meet some of her goals and was facing the things that were preventing her from being happy--and many of them did not have to do with her weight at all. It was this sort of holistic approach to a bunch of disordered things in her life and her perception of her weight (and how other people treated her because of it) was tied into it--not portrayed as a cause-effect situation or an uncomplicated single-issue problem.

I really liked some of the examples Ann gave of the treatment she got for being fat. None of them felt like they were just simple mocking or uncomplicated, unrealistic, straightforward teasing. It was stuff like a jerk expecting Ann's boss to believe she had been stealing food because she's fat, or how certain people would comment on her eating (whether she was eating "healthy" or not, it was always noteworthy), or how thin people would think it was fine to comment on how fat they thought they looked or felt while leaving it unspoken how fat Ann must seem beside them.

I had SO much rage about how unfairly she got treated at her job and how the popular girls treated her with their two-faced crap, and I literally cried on the bus when her dad invited her to a family function only to find out she was expected to babysit instead of be included. I felt so bad for her for so many reasons, and I was so grateful to see her plant her feet and decide her life didn't have to be that way. (And furthermore, she doesn't have to be thin to have a right to humane treatment).

The only things I was a little disappointed by were a) the too-literal, too-convenient way the children in the book were used to highlight family issues using clear, unambiguous dialogue that didn't really sound natural for children at age four, and b) how difficult it was to keep all the characters straight sometimes. Ann had a large cast of characters in her split-up-and-reintegrated family, and I had trouble really solidifying any true understanding of her relationship with each of them and how they were related to her beyond what they were doing onscreen at that moment. It just felt a little confusing.

I liked Ann's friendship with Raynee and the way her friend also had to grow past some poisonous mindsets to be a happier and more honest person, and I thought some of the shopping scenes, the family freakouts, the social media, and the crush situation were very well written.
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Reading Progress

November 12, 2014 – Shelved
November 12, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
December 20, 2019 – Started Reading
January 1, 2020 – Finished Reading

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