Monday, May 19, 2014

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love {by Ken Baker}

Title: How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love
Author: Ken Baker
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

"Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty." To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big "F" word—"fat." Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.
Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her "momager" signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family's financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?

This was a hilarious yet touching story of not only just a "fat girl" trying to come to terms with herself and her body, but also a satire against "reality" TV. I think for the most part, we are all aware how staged reality TV actually is, but this gave us a closer, actual look at how things are behind the scenes.

Emery is 16-years-old, the black sheep of an otherwise "perfect" family. Her father is never home, her mother is obsessed with her looks and getting her husband to notice her (spoiler: nothing works) and having a perfect family, and her sister is just obsessed with herself. Emery deals with her stress about her family by eating, which has led to her being severely obese. She's fine with it, until her mother wants her to sign up for a reality TV show where she would have to lose 50 pounds in 50 days.

Emery was so...real. She had her flaws, and that made her much easier to relate with. She is just a teen girl. There are enough problems with that as it is, but she has to deal with this crazy family on top of that. She was hilarious and fun, although she did spend a lot of time making fun of herself or being self-deprecating, to mask her pain. And although she acted like she had no care in the world, everything her family said hurt, but she is a master at hiding her pain.

I don't know how Baker did it (especially being a dude) but Emery's voice was so real and perfect. He was able to exactly capture the essence of a teenage girl and her struggles. Sure, she might have some issues and flaws, but so does every teenage girl, and hers were realistic. She was still a likeable character, one that you will be rooting for.

The rest of the characters, although not worth mentioning separately, were also entertaining. Their depth--or purposeful lack of--was enough for them to help serve their purpose for the story without either taking over or fading too much into the background. Ben was also such a sweetheart. I do like that the romance was one that was already there. There was no hot guy that only liked her after she got hot. Ben was already there for here from the beginning, no matter what happened or what she looked like. (Okay, slight disappointment that nothing happened with Ryan. No fear, there wasn't a love triangle or anything.)

Baker's writing will keep you entertained. You will laugh, but you will also feel for Emery. I admire the way she handled everything that was thrown at her. Emery grows and matures throughout the story, and that speaks a lot for her character. I also appreciate the themes of loving yourself first and being comfortable in your own body, no matter what it looks like.

The secrets were a bit predictable, and I think there needed to be a lot more closure at the end. However, this was still a very enjoyable read, one that I would recommend.

I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

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