Weiner proves yet again that women can be their own worst enemies—and shows that women’s worst enemies can also be their best friends.
Addie Downs can’t catch a break. Fat and friendless as a child, she enjoys a few years’ respite from isolation when awkward, neglected Valerie Adler moves in across the street in the Chicago suburb of Pleasant Ridge. Val doesn’t care that Addie’s mom is obese, or that her father doesn’t have a real job; she’s entranced by the idea of hot meals (Naomi Adler’s idea of dinner is Tab and Wheat Thins, topped off with a Salem Light), clean clothes and a regular bedtime. When Val returns with braces and breasts from a summer visiting her father in California, Addie knows the end is near, although she’d never guess how deep Val’s betrayal will be. Alone again, Addie leaves for college only to have her father die before she’s unpacked. Then Mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, and Addie watches her monstrous body wither to a horrifying death. Orphaned at 20, Addie lives alone in her parents’ home, painting watercolors for a greeting-card company. And eating. When she tops 300 pounds, she finally says, “Enough!” and starts a diet and exercise regimen that brings her down to normal proportions. She buys nice clothes, redecorates her house and even has an abortive fling with a married man she meets at the gym. Just as she’s starting to feel normal, Hurricane Val bears down on her. Now a TV weathergirl at a local Chicago station, Val, unlike Addie, can’t resist going to their high-school reunion, where she does something very bad, attracting the attention of Pleasant Ridge’s lonely, needy police chief Jordan Novick. Now Val needs Addie’s help, and though Addie knows she’s being played, she can’t resist her BFF, whose harebrained, selfish, irresponsible behavior leads Addie to unexpected joy.
So much material recycled from earlier novels (Certain Girls, 2008, etc.) that even fans will feel déjà vu.