After her last-ditch effort to avoid fat camp (by going on a fad diet that promises weight loss with each act of forgiveness) fails spectacularly, Bee—angry, assertive, irreverent—faces eight weeks’ forced exile among the weight-obsessed, far from TJ.
Bee, 16, is almost sure that amateur magician TJ loves her. Trying the Forgiveness Diet was his idea; if it works, she can skip fat camp and watch him audition for American Envy. The diet is everywhere—even her sister’s obnoxious boyfriend knows about it. Still smarting from the time her estranged father pretended not to recognize her, Bee’s not in a forgiving mood. And there’s plenty to hate about Camp Utopia: California’s foggy coastal climate; the cellphone confiscation policy; weekly, humiliatingly public weigh-ins; motivational speakers. (Satirical targets range from mainstream to countercultural.) Marking a new low, Bee gains weight in the camp’s weight-loss competition, jeopardizing her team’s chances of winning and infuriating the captain. It’s not all bad—her loyal and equally rebellious roommates, Liliana and Tabitha, support her. Though she’s outraged at camp conformity, the cultural obsession with physical appearance, the witless narcissism hiding behind the drive for self-improvement, Bee’s hardest on herself. That passionate anger brings her dad back into her life, a letter from the Forgiveness Diet’s originator and attention from Liliana’s attractive brother.
Anarchic slapstick laced with timely truths make this wry, occasionally raunchy debut a standout. (Fiction. 14 & up)