A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that K.A. Barson's first novel, 45 Pounds (More or Less), offers a painfully realistic view of a teen girl's struggles with weight and self-loathing. Ann digs deep into the reasons she finds solace in eating, including exploring her relationship to fast food and the depiction of body images in popular culture; numerous food and clothing brands (real and fictional) are used in this context. Characters call others or themselves fat (or "cow," "heifer," or "fat-ass"). Issues surrounding marriage and family are also important; Ann's parents divorced because of her father's infidelity, and they are each are married to new partners (many characters call Ann's adulterous dad a "dickhead"). There's a loving, committed lesbian relationship, with a wedding on the horizon. Also note that some teens in the book consume alcohol, and Ann's grandma smokes cigarettes.
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What's the story?
When 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) opens, overweight teenager Ann Galardi is enduring the pain of clothes shopping with her ultra-thin mom, to be followed by lunch at the mall food court. It's a snapshot of Ann's roller-coaster relationship with her family, food, weight, and body image. She seems stuck in a cycle of self-loathing and self-medicating with food. But when her Aunt Jackie announces in June that she and her longtime partner, Chris, will be married in August, and she wants Ann to be a bridesmaid, Ann promises herself that she'll lose 45 pounds and fit into a great dress by the time of the wedding. This marks the beginning of a journey in which Ann gets her first job, loses a friend, gains a friend, gets a crush, starts an infomercial diet plan, learns to dance, and deeply explores issues concerning her parents' divorce and the ways her relationships to food and family are intertwined.
Is it any good?
45 Pounds (More or Less) is not an easy read. Ann suffers numerous indignities (both real and imagined); she's in a lot of pain, and it's hard to witness her sadness and humiliation. However, her story is compelling and entertaining, and there's a lot of goodness to be found in her world. She's a very relatable character, and any teens who have struggled with weight or body image will learn a lot from this character.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about dieting and body image. What, if anything, did you learn about these from 45 Pounds (More of Less)?
What does Ann learn as a consumer when she buys a diet system that she sees on an infomercial? What finally changes her relationship to dieting and food?
Thinking about Ann's experience, next time you watch a TV show geared toward kids or teens, think about what the commercials say about food, weight, and body image.
- Author: K.A. Barson
- Genre: Body Awareness
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Viking Juvenile
- Publication date: July 11, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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