Saturday, July 14, 2012

27. Making It Big by Lyndsay Russell

Sad, lonely Sharon Plunkett is a size 18. She's tried every fad, every diet, every cream, but like a stain of grease on a pure silk blouse, her rolls of fat refuse to budge. The man of her dreams is not interested, and her slim friend Debbee uses her to look good. But all that changes when Sharon magically finds herself in a fantastic, reversed world where it's suddenly "in" to be fat, and "out" to be slim!Now feted and adored for her curvaceously large body and stunning face, she goes from being a newly discovered model to a Hollywood icon. Dating ever more glamorous men on the way, Sharon journeys to the top of the celebrity world as a magnificent example of womanhood. But then it all goes wrong—very wrong. This delicious, page-turning novel highlights press manipulation, and hits back at the "skinny insanity" currently gripping the western world.

The description sounded great but the idea is better than the execution. The character of Sharon was a very poor Bridget Jones. The expected self-deprecation at the beginning seemed to be setting Sharon up for some changes in life and in attitude. That was not the case. The self loathing continued from page to page, from the world where fat is bad and full on into the world where she was fat and therefore beautiful and desirable. Reading it, I started to feel beaten down by constant put-downs Sharon gives herself. Even when it seemed she would find some self acceptance when the world shift and fat is "in" , her life choices take her down the self destructive path. The message that size shouldn't matter or define who you are as a person was not a new message and was presented with the subtlety and finesse of a jack hammer. It was a lesson the reader picks up on quickly but the main character seems to have missed the memo. This book focused on the issue of size and the value of superficial appearance in the public eye. I mean, it really focused there, and wouldn't let go. This redundancy just about destroyed any enjoyment factor. The real issue Sharon needed to deal with, which was largely ignored, was her choice in relationships and confidence. The emotional abandonment by her father, bullying and unrelenting verbal abuse from her step family and shallow choices in romantic relationships surely warranted deeper attention. Her appearance was a symptom of much larger and more serious concerns left untouched by the author. For all the focus on size and how the world judges based on appearance, almost no redemption of the characters can be found. I kept waiting for an 'ah-ha' moment where the characters, any of them, would get a clue but it never happened. Written as a satire on what beauty means in the media, the message became singular, repetitive, and depressing. It could have been so much better, but it was a waste of a good idea. And a waste of time.

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