Life in the Fat Lane by Cherie Bennet
ISBN-13: 978-0385740067
Ember, New York, 2011
272 p.

GENRE: Realistic Fiction

TEASER: Lara has the perfect life: popularity, beauty, and the perfect boyfriend and family. THen she gained weight and everything changed.

SUMMARY: Lara Ardeche’s life was perfect. She was popular, she had great friends, the perfect family, a wonderful boyfriend, was made homecoming queen, and she was thin. When a mysterious rash appears, Lara starts taking medication in order to control the intense itching. But the medication causes her to gain weight. She tries everything to loss weight, even taking laxatives and starving herself. The more weight she gains the more her life seems to fall apart. She soon realizes that her perfect family was never really perfect at all. Can Lara learn to love herself again?

CRITIQUE: The story is told in first-person perspective through Lara Ardeche. This novel is painfully honest. As Lara gains more and more weight her language because more and more self deprecating and hat filled. While reading this book, I often wondered if we would ever get to a point where the word “fat wasn’t used with such intense hatred and disgust. The characters are very well thought out. No one is perfect in this book and I really appreciated that. In the beginning, everything looks wonderful on the surface to Lara. Her mother is beautiful, her father is handsome, and they are both still in love with each other. This of course was just one of the facades that Lara learned about once she started to gain weight.

Lara’s parents are extremely concerned with appearances. In fact, Lara’s mother ignores her husband’s cheating in order to keep up appearances as the perfect couple. Her mother is also extremely pressuring when it comes to Lara losing weight. her father as well. They both refuse to believe that Lara is trying to lose weight and accuse her of sneaking food. Her father acts cold towards her as she gains weight. He eventually loses interest in his family’s problems and leaves.

I really appreciated the fact that the story didn’t end perfectly. Not everything was resolved. We never know if she and her boyfriend Jett worked things out. We don’t know for sure what happens between Lara’s parents. Even her self image is left questioning. She is making progress at the end of the book to stop looking at herself like she’s fat. She is slowly starting to realize that she has to learn how to be happy with herself jut the way she is.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cherie Bennet is an actress, novelist, director, playwright, newspaper columnist, singer, and television writer. She was the scriptwriter for daytime shows such as: As the World Turns, The Young and the Restless, and Smallville. She is also the author of A Heart Divided, Anne Frank and Me, Zink, and numerous television series adapted into novels.

Bennet lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Jeff Gottesffeld and their son. They adopted their son Igor from Russia. Jeff Gottesfeld is also a writer. They often collaborate on projects.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://www.cheriebennett.com/

READING LEVEL: 14+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people might take issue with the sexual situations, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, and drug overdose within this novel.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: Health

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: There were parts of the book left unresolved, do you feel this makes it more realistic? Was it conclusive enough for you?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a book that dealt with body image and weight. I was drawn to the fact that the main character was the perfect beauty queen instead of having a weight problem all her life.