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)