Leah's Reviews > All of Me

All of Me by Chris Baron
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did not like it
bookshelves: read-2019, middle-grade

This has one major point in its favor (male character struggling with weight rather than female), a few fairly average issues (the writing felt far more adult than middle grade in places; more than one plotline or character seemed to trail off and disappear with little resolution; although the story seemed to be taking place in the current time based on mentions of cell phones the cultural interests of the young characters seemed to have been arrested in the eighties; the Judaism that they keep talking about in theory of the mitzvot and keeping Shabbat seemed significantly at odds with what any character was doing currently) and the serious issue that I'm genuinely concerned it might contribute to a child's eating disorder.

Yes, it has the eventual "your weight doesn't matter, it's on the inside that counts" message, but only in perhaps the last quarter of the book. Prior to that, readers must follow Ari on adventures in severe bullying, self harm, crash dieting, and extreme body negativity, and the revelation only comes after he has lost weight and been noticed for it. No information is given about the genetic factors of weight gain, the complex entanglement of fatness and health, or the metabolic complications with dieting vs. keeping weight off. All adult figures including medical professionals (except perhaps the rabbi, whose storyline is somewhat separate from the weight aspect) are extremely focused on weight loss by whatever means necessary. Little change has been made or support added regarding the familial/emotional aspects to which Ari connects some of his overeating tendencies - his parents are still a mess, still absent, and he never returns to therapy. At no point is it mentioned that a body can be good for more than being thin. I would have loved for just once Ari to think to himself "I appreciate that my body helps me ride around on my bike."

I especially struggled with weight right around seventh grade, and if I had read a book like this, even if the message was allegedly that you should love yourself however you look, I would have come away angry and ashamed of my body. I would have picked up on the much stronger messages about the importance of significant food regulation, that bullying can be stopped if you just look better and don't provide as much of a target, that the culturally accepted standard of beauty or health is singular and meant to be reached by any means necessary, and that would have been tremendously damaging.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 28, 2019 – Shelved
May 28, 2019 – Shelved as: read-2019
May 28, 2019 – Shelved as: middle-grade

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Barbara Thank you for these comments. I felt the same way as I read the book. Yes, Ari comes to accept himself, but weight and food issues will continue to plague him.

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