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September 04, 2012

Review: Skinny by Donna Conner

Hardcover; 272 pages
Expected publication: October 1, 2012 by Scholastic

Goodreads | Amazon
Find your voice.
Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.
But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.
With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

I am so very torn on how to review this book.

On the one hand, I felt it was a great insight into the mind of a young girl who is struggling with her weight, and an eating disorder.

On the other hand, I felt it was an eating disorder, and the solution—gastric bypass surgery—doesn’t send a good message. Ever is an emotional eater. She needed psychological help. This should have been explored before she was thrown into the operating room. It’s claimed that she has tried dieting and exercising with no success, but never in the book do we see her practice any self-control. Jumping straight to gastric bypass surgery at such a young age, when she wasn’t doing anything to manage her weight herself, doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not saying everyone can lose weight through eating well and exercise, I understand that gastric bypass is a last resort for some people. But Ever claims to have tried every diet in the book, and yet we never see her pick up anything healthy—only sweets. The way the doctor convinced her father to allow the surgery—through asking Ever how many calories were in a few foods—seemed absolutely ludicrous. People struggling with anorexia can also tell you how many calories are in everything, that doesn’t mean they need surgery, does it?

I feel like this book reinforces the stigma that anyone who struggles with their weight is just looking for a quick fix, and hard work and effort aren’t necessary. There was a lot of potential here. It could have given insight into gastric bypass in a way that may have opened some eyes. But to me, it was more about Ever’s quest to be skinny rather than healthy. Linking a book about a girl’s quest to be thin with such a controversial procedure just doesn’t seem like a great idea to me.

When I was reading Skinny, I enjoyed it. Don’t allow my review to keep you from giving it a shot, as you may feel differently. It wasn’t until I sat and stewed on the book that all of these things started to bother me.

3/5 Stars


  1. Issues with weight affect people of all ages, but what's more sad is when you see young kids going through that. I hope this book brings a good influence on YA's rather than giving them the wrong impression.

    1. I agree. And I hope it doesn't encourage teens to think surgery is the way to go.

  2. Excellent points. I'm pretty sure with Gastric Bypass Surgery, part of the process is going to a counselor and a nutritionist. This book had a great opportunity that could have explored reasons why Ever was hiding and why Skinny was sabotaging her.

    1. I thought that was the case as well. Ever would have benefited greatly from talking to someone. It struck me as odd--and sad--that she isn't encouraged to talk to someone before OR after the procedure. Especially being a teen.

    2. In real life, it's a big process. You can't just decide "Okay I'm getting the gastric bypass" and just go in and do it. Huge steps have to be taken before you can do it. The author should have made that clear in the book if she didn't.

  3. All very good points! I've been overweight all my life, including through high school, and gastric bypass was never an option (aside from being unsafe, it tends to be a last-resort for the morbidly obese because of potential side effects and fallout). I have a friend who is an emotional eater and went through it, and gained all the weight back within a, yeah, I'd be frustrated with the tactic of the book as well. Although, as you said, hopefully it also inspires YA readers to tackle their self-doubt and low esteem issues aggressively.

    1. I've heard of a lot of people gaining their weight back quickly! It's a life changer, and I think Ever would have been one of those people who would have eventually gained it back, because her psychological struggles weren't addressed.

  4. Hm... It's nice to see more and more books addressing issues, such as eating disorders and obesity, but as you said, it's just plain wrong to imply that one should just get surgery, instead of doing the hard work of dieting and exercise. Any form of surgery is extreme, so implying to do surgery over changing lifestyle seems a bit ridiculous.

    It is wonderful that the book is still enjoyable and does a good job of getting into the mind of Ever. It is nice seeing that obesity is not being ignored.

    1. Agreed. I hope we see more books that address these issues in the future.

  5. Its great to come across books that deal with real life issues, especially eating disorders among teens which are so rampant nowadays but usually go unaddressed/undetected. I feel teens & young adults should be educated about such issues and the best way to do that rather than having to sit through classes is through such books.

    Looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the great review. You have stated great points there.

  6. I I have not read this book yet, but I do want to. I do like to see that books are starting to try and address real issues girls have. I also hope that people don't read this book and then think that the surg is the way to go instead of working hard to loose it first. I want to read this even more now. So, I can actually read what you guess are talking about.

  7. Very intriguing review. I can understand why you may have felt torn. It's such a tricky subject, as I understand through your review. Would still be interested in reading this - will put it on my list! Thanks!


  8. This book is already on my TBR list. I agree with the points you made in your review. Diet/exercise, in combination, is the most healthy way to stay fit but it takes time, effort, and patience. Many take the easy way and go for gastric bypass surgery. But it's not a magical solution and there can be complications and/or side effects. There are many unethical doctors that view such surgeries as a cash cow.

    Such issue-based books should be available in school libraries. Ideally, they should be made part of the curriculum.


  9. I was wondering about this book. It looked like any other book that has been written for the subject I'd come across, but I'm curious to learn the message might be interpreted negatively by those seeking answers from it.

    I can see why you felt iffy about it and I think I might too. Thanks for the review. I think I'll pass :(


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