Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Huge by Sasha Paley

I picked up this book because I started to watch the TV show based on the book. Most times people will say the book is better, but in this case, I think the TV show does a better job of life at a fat camp.

Wil has been sent to Wellness Canyon because her parents own a health club and it's embarrassing to have an overweight daughter. She, however, doesn't see this being a problem and decides to gain weight at camp instead of lose. Her roommate is April, who, on the other hand, has saved her money for years to go to this camp and wants to lose as much weight as possible. The two butt heads with their conflicting attitudes towards camp until they discover a common enemy - a boy named Colin who they both like and who then humiliated both girls. Now bent on revenge, the girls join forces, losing weight and gaining friendship.

The book was decent but I think it's very misleading. While I don't have any experience with fat camp, I feel like this book was very misleading. First off, 15 pounds in 2 weeks is not a very realistic or necessarily healthy. Also, if you're exercising, chances are you might actually gain weight because you're gaining muscle which weighs more. Everyone had amazing weight loss results and they treated it at times like they weren't even trying. Wil didn't even want to lose weight yet suddenly she's so skinny her parents can wrap their arms all the way around her and she doesn't fit into any of the skinny clothes her parents "optimistically packed." Not to mention that they all magically fit into "normal" sized clothing. Yes I know that fat camps are designed to have drastic weight loss, but it doesn't work for everyone. Wil didn't even seem to put forth a conscious effort and she had amazing results. At the same time, everyone was so casual about weight that this could easily have just been an average run of the mill camp, nothing to do with weight. There is so much emotion and struggle going on with addressing weight loss that wasn't addressed, such as eating disorders and the fact that not everyone is going to lose weight. I think this novel just showed the positive side of it and I think it did an unrealistic job at that.

At the same time, I don't think this book gives a positive outlook for overweight people. I liked Wil at the beginning of the book because she seemed to have the attitude of "I'm happy the way I am, why can't you just accept me." Yet that attitude disappeared and she seemed to have no motivation towards either side of the spectrum and was losing all this weight. Then there's April who just wanted to be accepted and popular, which only happened once she became skinny. So is this novel saying you can't be happy unless you're skinny? Not in so many words, but everyone lost weight which makes me feel like you can't be satisfied if you're not skinny.

I dislike this novel because I think it sends the wrong message. It makes it seem like fat camp is the cure-all for overweight people. Without even trying you'll lose weight and then you'll be popular - which, if that's the case, why aren't fat camps more prevalent? True there's a message about friendship but that seems to get lost as the characters don't change or learn until the last three chapters. The book is an easy read, but take it all with a grain of salt and don't expect the full experience of life in "fat camp" because much of the emotional ride is missing.

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