Author: Donna Cooner
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Released: September 1st 2012
Pages: 295 (Paperback)
Find your voice.
Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.
But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.
With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
The synopsis of this book caught my eye, because let's face it; I'm fat. I always have been, both due to my genetic makeup and the fact that I adore chocolate cake. Last summer, I started dieting, and lost a stone pretty quickly. However, the pressure of exams and stress started to pile on, and I'm slowly gaining the weight back; it's not as easy as it looks folks, and Skinny seemed like it'd address the difficult side of weight loss.
As the reader, I immediately felt a connection to Ever and Skinny. Whenever I overeat, I know I'm doing it, but I can't seem to help myself, and afterwards I have this horrible voice in my head telling me what a mistake it all was, and cramming all these different insecurities into me. Cooner portrayed the unspoken idea perfectly, and I think she managed to perfectly grasp the pressure teenagers are under about their looks and weight, and how much grief we give ourselves for doing little things, like eating a candy bar.
Although I could relate to Ever, I hated how self-obsessed she was. Everything rotated around her, and she showed a blatant disregard for everyone else. Yes, I knew Skinny was there, fuelling her self-hatred, but she really was oblivious to everyone elses feelings, and just felt sorry for herself. Other characters had a pretty bad, too, and I don't think that was highlighted enough. It also annoyed me at the end when she was suddenly this gorgeous, thin girl with this amazing voice - and she completely believed it. Instead of being wrapped up in self-hatred, she was blinded by how changed she was, and all she seemed to go on about was how "pretty" she was and how her singing voice was so fabulous and ugh. I hate characters who are gorgeous and are totally aware of it but pretend not to be. I'm sure the point of it was to show the slow progression from hating to loving herself, but it was just annoying in the end.
However, I loved the characterisation of Rat. Oh my god, he was the most adorable thing. I think Cooner characterised the ultimate best friend - nerdy, but wonderful. He adored Ever from start to finish, and I honestly think he had the patience of a Saint. She was so horrible to him, and he didn't even flinch. A tad bit unrealistic, but with quite a realistic and scary subject matter, I suppose a little lack of realism is good.
Although I think Cooner tackled the topic of weight well, along with the reaction of the high school students (when she was fat, everyone ignored her; she loses weight and she is suddenly a somebody. Sad, but realistic), the message she was trying to send didn't sit so well with me. Gastric bypass surgery is a pretty big thing, and although I know she was drawing from her own experiences, I thought it was a bad message to send out - that you need this surgery to lose weight and to improve your life. It isn't true. Ever constantly snacked throughout any diet, which was why it didn't work, and I don't think that was made clear enough. If you eat healthily and do exercise, you will lose weight, and I would have much rather read a book sending out that message, rather than that the easiest option is surgery.
Overall, it was good - Cooner clearly and cleverly portrayed the thoughts of teenagers and how negative we can be about ourselves and our appearances. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, as I think I wanted to feel the revelation and the change alongside Ever, which I didn't - but it was still good.