Although it aims to liberate, this is just another weight-loss arc accidentally portraying fatness as tragic and optional.



A teen reaps economic, professional, and social benefits from losing weight.

Cookie Vonn—white and blonde like her supermodel mother—has absentee parents, a zeal for fashion, a hardcore work ethic, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: interviewing a world-famous New York designer for her blog internship. But the airline declares Cookie “too fat to fly.” So, age 17 and 330 pounds, Cookie joins the NutriNation diet plan. A plot thread labeled “fat” follows her that year, while the interspersed “skinny” thread follows her at age 19, after losing 199 pounds. Despite showing two parts of the same person’s life—not alternate universes—it reads like alternate universes. Cookie’s first-person voice is zesty, funny, bitter, and bewitching in both, but they vary starkly in plausibility. Fat Cookie faces realistic discrimination and cruelty, while skinny Cookie stumbles into fantasy-level boons: designing her own fashion line, an all-expenses-paid wealthy lifestyle, corporate sponsorship, and passionate sex in an Argentine gondola. Although skinny Cookie still can’t find joy, her bounty of material gains profoundly undermines the text’s attempted message that weight loss is no golden ticket. Skinny Cookie eventually—supposedly—reaches self-acceptance, moderating the diet that left her constantly hungry—but how much import can a literary fat-acceptance message carry when spoken by a still-skinny character? The book assumes a white default.

Although it aims to liberate, this is just another weight-loss arc accidentally portraying fatness as tragic and optional. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-373-21253-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)


A dual-narrator novel explores the concept of forgiveness.

Budding poet Sarah is torn between two colleges: Mills, which has offered her a full scholarship, and the University of Washington, whose only appeal is Mr. Haddings. A grad student and poet-in-residence at her school, the charismatic Haddings has Sarah considering a change of plans, to the dismay of Sarah’s controlling mother. Haddings knows he needs to keep the relationship professional, but he’s having a hard time with that. Then, in a moment of distraction, Haddings hits Sarah with his car. Over the next three days, Sarah will cope with the pain, the accident and her worries about her future, while her family—oblivious father, brittle mother and immature brother—and her best friend try to help her. Haddings copes with his crushing guilt, usually making choices that make everything worse. Straining credulity, both Sarah and Haddings wonder if there might be a chance for them still, when the more important question is whether they can ever forgive. Plot events are sequenced poorly and depend far too much on coincidence for their effect; the dual narrative does not provide substantial additional insight, making it feel contrived as well. Stilted dialogue makes characters feel flat, particularly Sarah’s brother.

Forgettable. (Fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-310-7295-0-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Blink

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Overall, a solid debut.


In 1995 Atlanta, a mixed-race girl finds a way to stand out on her own terms.

Wing and her brother, Marcus, attract attention because they're half Chinese, half black. While Marcus is a football hero, Wing suffers bullying from a mean girl and secretly pines for Aaron, Marcus' best friend, a black boy. Everything changes when Marcus, while driving drunk, kills two people and falls into a coma. Wing feels completely alone; neither her mother nor her grandmothers, LaoLao and Granny Dee, seem to know what to do. So Wing starts running in secret, prodded by her imaginary dragon and lioness, which she has not seen since her father died. She feels free when she runs, as though she can outrun all her mixed emotions. When Aaron finds out, he encourages Wing, and they grow closer even as the situation at home worsens. A running sponsorship could save her family—but in trying to chase that sponsorship, will Wing lose the one thing that makes her feel free? The choice of time period feels unjustified—this story could have been equally true in 2016—and the device of the dragon and lioness feels forced. Nevertheless, Wing's sense of isolation is well-captured, and her grief and confusion are raw and moving.

Overall, a solid debut. (Historical fiction. 14-16)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-55502-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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