How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker
Sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson lives for food, and it seems that only her boyfriend, Ben, isn’t turned off by her obesity. Of course being almost 300 pounds himself, he doesn’t have a lot of room to judge.
Emery is content, or so it seems, with her diet of double cheeseburgers and onion rings until she is coerced into doing a reality TV show, Fifty Pounds to Freedom in which she must lose fifty pounds in 50 days to win one million dollars in order to save her family from foreclosure.
Emery’s secret stashes are found and dumped and her chocolate, burger and fries diet is replaced with vegetables, whole grains and proteins. She also begins a schedule of running, yoga, aerobics and other exercises.
But life with a former basketball star father, former Laker Girls mother, and equally perfect older sister who wants to be a talk show host isn’t what it seems on the outside. Add Doc, a sleazy producer, the Freedom team and boyfriend Ben and things get more complicated. And nothing is as it seems on the surface.
As the pounds melt away, Emery becomes a celebrity both on the reality show and on her own youtube vlog where she candidly shares her thoughts. But at the same time, secrets are uncovered, and Emery finds out that not all is as it seems. When Emery learns what is planned for the finale, she not only has to process what the information means to her personally, but also decide what to do about it.
This book hits on a lot of what people obsess over—weight, money and reality TV--and is a refreshing change from the ever popular dystopian and fantasy genres. Emery is a fresh and funny voice, although her language tends to be crude and profane at times.
And there are some values issues. Beyond the language, Emery is not only sexually active with her boyfriend, but she has a secret in her past that involves sleeping with two athletes at a party.
Another problem with the book is that the description of the character doesn’t match Emery’s height and weight. We’re told she’s 5’6” and 192 pounds, but she’s described as being very obese. At that weight her BMI is in the lower obese range, but she wouldn’t be nearly as large as she herself describes. Also if she really ate what she said she ate, she would weigh much more than 192.
The ending is a let down too. There’s all the build up to the finale and the final weigh in, and then blah. I wish the author had gone another way. But it’s still a good read.
Which boils down to an interesting book with captivating characters but less than Christian values and a character whose weight doesn’t match her description. Use discretion when deciding whether or not to read it.
I’d love to see what a Christian YA author would do with this idea.