1 October 2012, Scholastic
Ever, grieving the loss of her supportive, artistic mother, has seen her weight balloon to over 300 pounds, despite the love and support of her father and stepmother, Charlotte. She is a talented writer and singer, but the voice in her head (which she refers to as Skinny) is always telling her that she can’t succeed, that people don’t want to be friends with her, and that she will never, ever measure up because she is fat. Even her supportive best friend, Rat, can’t convince her of anything else, and her thin and attractive stepsisters Linsey and Briella don’t help at all. After an embarrassing incident of breaking a chair, Ever decides that she wants to try gastric bypass surgery in a last ditch effort to control her weight. Her father is reluctant but wants Ever to be happy. Rat is extremely supportive, monitoring Ever’s very specific food requirements, and making her spread sheets detailing her weight loss and exercise. Oddly, Briella’s best friend Whitney adopts Ever as a project, and as the pounds drop off, help Ever with new clothing and hair styles. When school starts again in the fall, Ever is fitting in size 16 clothing and has a new confidence. She hopes that Jackson, with whom she was friends before her mother died, will be interested in her romantically, and hopes that she can get a part in the school production of Cinderella. Even though she is thin, the voice of Skinny haunts her, and Ever learns that just because she is thinner, life does not become easier or less complicated.
Strengths: There are lots of good details about gastric bypass surgery, the dangers it entails, and the very complicated diet that needs to be followed. Ever is a very sympathetic character—in fact, I think it is all the nuanced characters that made me really enjoy this book. Books about eating disorders are always popular with middle school girls.
Weaknesses: If any book deserves to have a picture of an overweight girl on the cover, this would be it, and I am disappointed. Something intriguing could have been done with a picture of the skinny person inside the overweight person. As for the writing, very few weaknesses.
Rivers, Karen. The Encyclopedia of Me.
1 September 2012, Scholastic
From the Publisher: "Tink Aaron-Martin has been grounded AGAIN after an adventure with her best friend Freddie Blue Anderson. To make the time pass, she decides to write an encyclopedia of her life from "Aa" (a kind of lava--okay, she cribbed that from the real encyclopedia) to "Zoo" (she's never been to one, but her brothers belong there).
As the alphabet unfolds, so does the story of Tink's summer: more adventures with Freddie Blue (and more experiences in being grounded); how her family was featured in a magazine about "Living with Autism," thanks to her older brother Seb--and what happened after Seb fell apart; her growing friendship, and maybe more, with Kai, a skateboarder who made her swoon (sort of). And her own sense that maybe she belongs not under "H" for "Hideous," or "I" for "Invisible," but "O" for "Okay."
Written entirely in Tink's hilarious encyclopedia entries, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ME is both a witty trick and a reading treat for anyone who loves terrific middle-grade novels."
I mention this one even though the format drove me crazy for two reasons. One, notice that on the cover the girl's feet are slightly darker complected, since she is biracial. Bonus points for paying attention. Two, it is perfect for fans of Louise Rennison.