Sackier, Shelley. Dear Opl
August 2015, Sourcebooks
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Opl (her mother wants her to lose weight, so trimming 25% of the letters from her name is a start) is angry at her mother for harping about her weight, as well as for being so busy with her library job and the new bookstore she is trying to start. When her mother suggests that Opl start a blog, she does, only to find that her best friend tells so many people that eventually there are almost 4,000 followers to the blog in just two months. Opl is sad that her father died of cancer, and is irritated a bit by her younger brother, who wants to wear only Halloweed costumes meant for girls, and her grandfather, who has moved in with the family. She's angry at the school for changing the lunches and making them healthier, following the advice of a English television chef whom she at first detests, but then invites to her mother's store opening. There is also a homeless man who gets in Opl's way at first, but whom she hires to help fix up her mother's store. Opl does overcome some of her emotional issues and starts to realize that her mother is so concerned because Opl is pre-diabetic, and the family comes to a bit more of an understanding by the end of the book.
Strengths: This had some good moments, with the explanation of emotional eating, the portrayal of how different people handle grief without harping on it overly much, and the description of a healthier school cafeteria progam. Books featuring disordered eating are always popular in the middle school.
Weaknesses: Students today don't read blogs, much less write them-- it's all about Instagram and Snapchat at this second in time. (Writing this in April to appear in August... maybe they are on to the next thing already!) I have been blogging for 8 years and don't have 300 followers, so maybe I'm just bitter, but it seemed unrealistic, as did Opl employing the homeless man and giving him the key to her mother's store.
What I really think: I may end up buying this, but I wanted to slap Opl throughout most of the book. Hard. Whiny, nasty, unpleasant even to her friends, and not at all concerned about her weight in any kind of constructive way... wow. No, eating properly isn't necessarily fun, and yes, Oreos are much tastier than the high fiber protein cereal I eat for breakfast that my daughters say looks like hamster food, but staying thin and healthy helps prevent all manner of ill health, so is worth the effort. Fat shaming is rude, but I would have liked this to be a more helpful book.