I received an ARC of this work.
2 out of 5 stars.
Ashley Perkins is a person most people would find pretty perfect. She is going to be valedictorian of her graduating class, she is involved in extra-curricular activities, she is well liked and has a good relationship with her boyfriend. She even finds time for a part-time job. Her eventual goal is to get into Harvard on scholarships. Ashely and her friends are totally okay with Ashely being overweight, but her high-achieving surgeon grandmother is not. Every year, she tries to bribe Ashley to lose weight. Shopping sprees and exotic trips and cars have all been offered if Ashley will just go on a diet. She has managed to refuse every year so far, but her grandmother is REALLY pulling out all the stops this year. If Ashely will get weight loss surgery, her grandmother will pay for all 4 years in Harvard. With her scholarship deadline looming, Ashely has to weigh exactly how much her sense of self worth is worth.
While amusing, the problem I found with this book is that it has way too many themes. It would have been great if it had been a book about Ashley’s self-esteem and her relationship with her grandmother, but it ends up being about that AND about Ashley’s relationship with her dysfunctional dad AND Ashley’s relationship with her transgendered friend AND that friend’s relationship with her parents. There was way too much going on in too little space. As a result the book really feels rushed and all of the characters are hazy and indistinct. If this was meant to be an issues book, then the author should have focused on the issue more closely. I appreciate wanting to speak to all these different types of relationships and experiences, but things got too tangled and squished together.
I also found the grandmother character a little unbelievable. I can completely see her being concerned that her granddaughter will be at a disadvantage because of her size, but recommending a fairly extreme surgery to a healthy girl when you yourself are a surgeon seems unrealistic. The grandmother should know the risks of surgery, especially a weight loss one, and not go recommending her granddaughter get cut open on an operating table for purely aesthetic reasons.
This book was a good, intriguing idea that was poorly executed. I wanted more of Ashley’s inner thoughts and feelings as she struggled with her decision, not moments of her day to day life that are irrelevant to the plot arch of the book. I am not sure I would recommend this to many readers.