by Cooner, Donna

After undergoing gastric-bypass surgery, a self-loathing, obese teenaged girl loses weight and makes the brave decision to start participating in high school life, including pursuing her dream of becoming a singer and finding love.

Donna Cooner is the acclaimed author of Skinny and Can't Look Away. A Texas native and graduate of Texas A&M University, Donna currently lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, a cat named Stu, and two chocolate Labradors, Roxanne and Murphy. Follow @donnacooner on Twitter or visit her online at

Ever is 15 years old and 302 pounds. She can't go swimming, drive a car, or even walk up the stairs without running out of breath. Weight Watchers, fat camp, miracle diets, a hypnotherapist-she has tried it all. But after a chair snaps beneath her in front of the whole school, she decides upon the dramatic and potentially dangerous solution of gastric-bypass surgery. As the weight begins to drop, Ever becomes the pet makeover project of popular Whitney, and this exciting new relationship pulls her away from her ever-loyal best friend, Rat. Debut-novelist Cooner's real-life experience with gastric bypass lends the story an irrefutable authenticity as Ever learns firsthand the gory details of both the surgical procedure and the aftermath of diet changes, nausea, and dumping. Cooner uses Ever's imaginary antagonist, Skinny, to drive home the message that Ever's self-hatred is what is holding her back more than anything else. And while Skinny's attacks aren't incorporated especially smoothly, this remains a crucial text for any teen considering such a life-changing surgery. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

For the ultimate makeover, nothing beats gastric-bypass surgery. Her beloved, ever-dieting mom died five years ago. Now saddled with a beautiful stepmom and two gorgeous stepsisters, Ever, a sophomore, is pretty, smart, musically gifted and 302 pounds. Former buddy and long-term crush Jackson ignores Ever. She's taunted by classmates, but her own self-loathing eclipses their slurs-she's even given it a name, Skinny, and mostly ceded her identity to it. Skinny prevents Ever from taking up drama or accepting friendly overtures from stepsister Briella and takes Rat, science geek and loyal friend, for granted. Desperation drives Ever to gastric-bypass surgery. Her agonizing self-awareness, imprisoned in a body under severe stress, is compelling. (Author Cooner, who's had the surgery, doesn't sugarcoat its risks and considerable downsides.) As Ever loses weight, the story loses its grip on reality, avoiding tough issues, like the power assigned to appearance. A stylish classmate takes Ever under her wing, and enhanced by a designer wardrobe and hair, Ever's loveliness turns heads. Surgery's magic wand has opened doors for her that only the beautiful and gifted may enter. Lip service is paid to "inner beauty," but Cinderella, that quintessential consumer fairy tale and the plot's template, tells another story: It's what's outside that counts. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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