HEADS YOU WIN, TAILS I LOSE by Isabelle Holland


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Fifteen, fat and inclined to mild crushes on her teachers, Melissa is a female counterpart of Chuck, the protagonist of A Man without a Face (KR, 1972). And Melissa's mother, a heavy drinker who picks on her family when she isn't mouthing phony ideas about women's lib and organic vegetables, is merely a bitchier version of Chuck's. Rejected by her handsome neighbor Ted MacDonald and pushed to the edge by her parents' bickering, Melissa resorts to stealing her mother's diet pills. Before her emotional crash, which occurs during a rehearsal for a school play, Melissa does succeed in getting thin (a result which rather undercuts the anti-speed message). This is considerably more honest than most attempts to deal with the contemporary dragons of drugs and divorce; though Melissa learns to accept both of her parents, it's dear that they're headed for separation and she herself will have a long fight against her compulsive overeating. Seldom are the depths of anger and resentment that motivate teenage rebellion so painstakingly probed, but the tendency to divide people into two camps (sensitive and insensitive) and an undercurrent of vindictiveness throughout, make one wonder whether this is as mature as it is candid.

Pub Date: Sept. 17th, 1973
Publisher: Lippincott