For the ultimate makeover, nothing beats gastric-bypass surgery.
Her beloved, ever-dieting mom died five years ago. Now saddled with a beautiful stepmom and two gorgeous stepsisters, Ever, a sophomore, is pretty, smart, musically gifted and 302 pounds. Former buddy and long-term crush Jackson ignores Ever. She’s taunted by classmates, but her own self-loathing eclipses their slurs—she’s even given it a name, Skinny, and mostly ceded her identity to it. Skinny prevents Ever from taking up drama or accepting friendly overtures from stepsister Briella and takes Rat, science geek and loyal friend, for granted. Desperation drives Ever to gastric-bypass surgery. Her agonizing self-awareness, imprisoned in a body under severe stress, is compelling. (Author Cooner, who’s had the surgery, doesn’t sugarcoat its risks and considerable downsides.) As Ever loses weight, the story loses its grip on reality, avoiding tough issues, like the power assigned to appearance. A stylish classmate takes Ever under her wing, and enhanced by a designer wardrobe and hair, Ever’s loveliness turns heads. Surgery’s magic wand has opened doors for her that only the beautiful and gifted may enter.
Lip service is paid to “inner beauty,” but Cinderella, that quintessential consumer fairy tale and the plot’s template, tells another story: It’s what’s outside that counts. (Fiction. 12 & up)