Title: 45 Pounds (More or Less)
Author: K. A. Barson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:
She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.
Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.
And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!
K. A. Barson’s 45 Pounds (More or Less) is a funny, heartfelt debut many teen readers will relate to. I feel like there aren’t a lot of books about body image, despite the fact that it’s an issue many people deal with. There do seem to be a fair amount of books about eating disorders, but not on body positivity or eating healthfully.
I really felt for and even related to Ann at some points, even though we are completely different sizes. Many young women feel the pressure to be thin and are ostracized as Ann is if they’re not. People make fun of those who are overweight because it makes them feel superior, as though food and morality are connected, which is simply not true. This issue particularly comes to light when Ann is accused of stealing at the store she works at. The manager doesn’t even suspect Courtney, the actual thief, because he assumes that because Ann is fat, that makes her the natural culprit for stealing the food.
Barson covers other important issues as well, including family issues and eating disorders. I wasn’t sure if I liked that Barson revealed that Ann’s mother had an eating disorder, even though it did explain a lot about her. I’m not saying I wanted her mother to be completely evil, but even people who don’t have a history with eating disorders can be that way about weight.
I also thought it was good that Barson picked a weight for Ann that is actually overweight. I mention this because I recently read another debut where the protagonist, who was a size 8, was described as plus-sized. Although the protagonist felt she was overweight, I thought it was incorrect to describe her as plus-sized, which is actually anything size twelve and over, I believe. I think having protagonists, especially female protagonists, of different weights is important, because there aren’t really that many out there and one of the reasons people read is to find characters they relate to.
Family was another issue I thought Barson handled really well. I really felt Ann and her mother’s anger at her father, even though Ann didn’t feel that way from the beginning like her mom did. Barson made Ann’s dad perfectly hateable. It made me so mad when he asked her to come babysit his new family while he and the demon wife went to that extremely ironic Family First event. Ugh. Just ugh. On the subject of her dad’s family, I was glad that Naomi turned out not to be a complete bitch. It only came out when she was drunk, but still.
The only thing I felt the book didn’t really need was the romance. It was so minor and enough other important things were going on that I felt it was almost an afterthought. Although there were definitely some funny moments between Ann and John, in general I just didn’t feel it needed to be there.
All in all, K. A. Barson’s debut was funny and ultimately had a good message. Eating healthfully will do more for you than diet pills, and it will make you feel better about yourself as well. I’ll definitely be looking out for her other books in the future.