LIFE IN THE FAT LANE by Cherie Bennett


Age Range: 12 - 15
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 A teenager who has it all--perfect body, perfect personality, perfect grades, perfect boyfriend--loses it when she gains a hundred pounds in this unsubtle but ultimately savvy problem novel that reads like an Alicia Silverstone vehicle waiting to happen. A 118-pound beauty pageant veteran at 16, Lara is elected Homecoming Queen while still a junior. Then, for no discernible reason, she starts to gain weight, and her glittery world comes crashing down. Desperately putting her complacent philosophy-- ``If you dream it, you can do it''--to the test, she embarks on increasingly stringent programs of diet and exercise, to no avail. Drugs and counseling fail, too; she gains more weight even while on a monitored starvation diet before learning that she might have Axell-Crowne Syndrome, a rare metabolic disorder with no known cure. Meanwhile, as the numbers on the scale climb steadily and Lara's self-image goes into a tailspin, she experiences the social cost of being fat: the comments that range from catty to helpful to devastating; the unwarranted assumptions about her personal habits; the skepticism of peers and doctors; the creeping sense of being invisible. Bennett takes Lara through the whole patch with brutal directness, allowing her one loyal best friend and a boyfriend who means it when he says he still loves her. While the hazard of setting unrealistic standards of beauty is a familiar theme in teen novels, the author lays out the issues with unusual clarity, sharp insight, and cutting irony. The book's aim is not high culture but high school culture, and it scores for pure entertainment value. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-385-32274-7
Page count: 259pp
Publisher: Delacorte
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1997