Skinny – Diana Spechler

Since making my last post, the first book I’ve finished and will review here is Skinny by Diana Spechler. This book was brought to my attention when I read Bad Feminist last year, by Roxanne Gay. I had some issues with the way that Roxanne Gay discussed body image, but I’ll not get into that now. Either way in her discussion on body image she criticised this book, and I was curious to read the book for myself to get my own opinion on it.

Anyway I picked the book up from the library and started reading it during the weekend. Well, I don’t really like the word “chick-lit” but let’s just say the writing is nothing spectacular and it feels very much like it’s written to non-readers, aka to the masses/chick-lit/beach-reads, that kind of thing. Nothing wrong with that sort of book, but the writing really isn’t too great. It’s not horrible but it just doesn’t do it for me.

I’ll admit that even though I didn’t particularly like her writing style, or any of the characters, it was an “easy” read and one that could be enjoyable. For example I realize that Bennett isn’t exactly flawless, but reading about him was still fun. I don’t even know how I feel about the plot. I feel like it wasn’t actually that good, I can’t pinpoint any specific part that was good and yet I think I had fun reading it. I think reading this is kind of like eating junk food, addicting but not that great in retrospect.

Some parts also felt really outdated. This was published in 2011, but the kids sometimes act the way I feel like people did in my generation and earlier. I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old and not really “connected” to kids of that age. Reading about the teenage drama was probably the least enjoyable part of the novel, when it’s all about Eden and Miss and Whitney and Harriet and Spider, I feel like rolling my eyes and yawn.

Actually there is one part I liked in this. The way it dealt with disordered eating. I wouldn’t say eating disorders because no one is really diagnosed, but it’s clearly disordered when one purges on a regular basis, no matter for how short a time. And the same goes for the protagonist, Gray, sure she has “only added on 15 pounds” to her normal weight and it doesn’t say anywhere that she’s actually overweight. If it does I must have missed it, but from what I can tell she’s chubby but not exactly fat. She’s bigger than she normally is, and she’s added this on through uncontrolled eating (aka binge eating) for several months before she goes to fat camp. And she substitutes the binge eating with not eating at all, or at least very limited – so much so that her hair starts to fall out. If this is not disordered eating I don’t know what is. I thought that the way the behaviours in themselves were dealt with was realistic, and the emotions that come with those behaviours.

I will say that this book could probably be triggering to some. Just putting that out there.

To sum up, I’m not really sure how I feel about some parts of this novel or the characters, and as for the writing I didn’t think it was particularly good but also not exactly bad, I thought it was fine as entertainment and interesting way to deal with disordered eating and what that does (and really what grief does) to a person.

Nayu

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