By: Ken Baker
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: April 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: May 10, 2014
Through hilarity and thought-provoking insights, Ken Baker hits the mark in his incredibly believable work of fiction: How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love.
While this may be a work of fiction, the premise of this book is a resounding truth when it comes to teens and obesity in our world today. Main character Emery Jackson is a sixteen-year-old high school junior. She lives in a little piece of heaven: Highland Beach, California. She has a pretty face and that’s about as far as it goes. She’s not an “It” girl, an athlete or a sought after ‘BFF.’ Rather, she is 199 pounds packed onto a 5’6” frame and most of her days are filled with thoughts of how she can abscond with another double cheeseburger and super sized fries. Her mission: orchestrating the crime without her former LA Lakers Cheerleader mom figuring out her daughter’s daily crimes toward yet another food fest with her passion for unhealthy food choices...
However, there is one trump card Emery holds to maintain her personal preservation. She knows she is obese and willingly acknowledges the situation. She defies her mother about her weight problem every time she reaches for another hidden candy bar from her panty drawer stash. Her underwear model sister, Angel, is everything Emery isn’t. She is a cheerleader. She is an “It” girl and she is drop-dead gorgeous in her 5’9,” 119 pound frame. She is a contender for talk show hostess fame on her horizon and certainly the eye candy satisfaction to all she encounters. Emery is even non-phased by her absentee father’s motivational speeches he spans the globe to deliver. Simply put, Emery accepts the life she clearly has chosen and created.
When the Jackson family is approached to be the subject of a new reality television show, Fifty Days to Freedom, the ink is barely dry on the paper when Emery realizes the ‘fifty days’ is a direct link to her and the ultimate success of the show.
Ken Baker has addressed the dirty little secret reality to a serious problem: teenage obesity. He is visionary in how he set his pen to paper and created this often hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching and overall insightful dissertation of the inner workings of the teenaged girls’ mind. No girl (or anyone for that matter) wants a self image of being different that is directly related to her (over)size. Emery is obese and food is her comfort. Baker couples his story line with the real life smack down most of society gets with the insisted image and perfection (particularly young girls) are to adhere to. Given the premise of Mr. Baker’s book, which is for Emery to face her obesity head-on, he cleverly broke it down into four distinct parts with chapter headings of: I. Appetizer, II. Soup or Salad, III. Entrée, and IV. Dessert. As the story evolves, just like a great meal, the book becomes more appealing the further the reader ingests the text. He doesn’t use flowery language or site statistics. Rather, the story is peppered throughout with the inner thoughts of the mind, situations and raw feelings of a teenaged girl. He has demonstrated sound confidence of showcasing his writing ability through his story line of a solid voice that is truly supported by obvious research and knowledge of the topic. This is by far, a book every young girl/woman should read - ‘obese’ (or not). Well done Mr. Baker!
Quill says: This book will have you laughing out loud, checking your own mirror and it could possibly nudge you into replacing the script running in your head with a new and improved way of taking charge of your own existence.