This is a Message Book in which lessons trump writing and plot. Readers must overcome clunky dialog, clichhs, and didactic passages to focus on the girls' friendships. Each girl has an "issue": Charlotte is raised by a single dad, Avery is adopted, Maeve's parents are divorced, Isabel's mother has multiple sclerosis, and Katani's sister is autistic. In this book, though, the focus is on overweight Chelsea, who learns to stand up for herself and only eat one cookie when, conveniently, a camp counselor who used to be overweight mentors her with lessons about exercise and eating out of boredom. The book rightly eschews quick-fixes and diets (Jody, the counselor, tells Chelsea it took her two years to lose weight), focusing on the idea of "getting healthy" rather than losing weight. "I would just respect my body and eat healthy and exercise," Jody tells Chelsea. For the rest of the girls, the lesson is that "fat people are people, too" -- Chelsea, it turns out, takes great pictures and saves the day when her hiking group gets lost.
While the weight-related messages try to stay positive, the book goes a bit overboard with its cardboard villain and Chelsea's social isolation. As one example of how Chelsea is always embarrassed by her weight, her mom makes her buy a coat from the boys' department because none of the girl-size coats fit her. Wouldn't it make more sense to look in the women's section? Girls who are on the heavy side but still have outgoing personalities may have a hard time identifying with Chelsea (and her subsequent life lessons).