Skinny by Diana Spechler
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the author
Gray Lachman is miserable. After her father’s sudden death, which she feels responsible for, she finds herself overeating and over the course of a few months gains quite a bit of weight. She also discovers, much to her surprise, that she has a teenage half-sister named Eden, courtesy of her father’s affair, which she also didn’t know about. She decides to take a job as a counselor at the weight-loss camp Eden is registered for, hoping that she will get skinny, clear her mind of her issues surrounding her father’s death, and somehow explain to Eden how they are connected and build a relationship with her new sister.
I very much enjoyed Diana Spechler’s Who by Fire [my review] so when I found out she had a new book coming out, I knew I had to read it. Skinny is very different from Who by Fire, but I was pleased to discover it’s just as fantastic.
What made this story for me was the character of Gray. She is the kind of character the reader can easily sympathize with even though she’s not necessarily likable. She’s flawed and makes mistakes, she jumps to conclusions and sometimes hurts those she cares about, but she’s incredibly realistic. She’s the kind of person I am in my truest moments – vulnerable, sometimes a little sad, sometimes unhappy with myself, but ultimately just trying to figure life out. And it helps that Gray and I are roughly the same age. While my life is a little more “put-together” than hers (I have a house, a husband, etc. and she is sort of untethered) I still related to her emotionally. I related to her struggle to accept herself – her body and her personality – and to her struggle to accept the events in her life and move past them. I think a lot of people struggle with these things and consequently many readers will see aspects of their own lives and feelings mirrored in Gray’s.
I love the way Spechler writes. The words are put together just so, nothing fancy or anything, but in such a perfect way that the reader can’t help turning the pages. I found this to be the case with Who by Fire and also with Skinny. The dialogue is interesting and very realistic and the writing just works.
This book made me feel so many things – it is both funny and heartbreaking, happy and deeply sad. The events in the novel were all over the place – apparently a lot can happen in a few weeks at weight-loss camp! Everything came together perfectly in the end, and it was the kind of bittersweet ending I love – wrapped up well but with semi-loose ends, in a realistic kind of way. In life, things do not end perfectly, so why should things end perfectly in books? That’s the way I typically feel, anyway, and I for one was very happy with how Spechler chose to end this particular novel.
I feel like I haven’t been all that coherent with this review because I liked this book so much but I don’t have the perfect words to explain why. This is one of those times where I say: just read it!
Stay tuned tomorrow because Diana Spechler will drop by with a guest post which you will not want to miss!