In a modern wish-fulfillment fairy tale that applies and removes feminism like makeup—frequently, easily and with relish—Simone goes from That Weird Fat Girl to hottie.
Simone has pale skin, jet-black hair and lips so naturally red that her wannabe-stepmother smolders with jealousy. Hillary’s 28-year-old, zero-fat body and blond hair have Simone’s widowed father under “some kind of spell.” Snow White details sparkle: Classmate Jason’s “sort of a prince” in this wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood because his dad's Oscars make him royalty; Simone spends summertime in a house with seven men (her happy—get it?—brother and six others, including a sleepyhead with narcolepsy); Hillary evilly provides Hostess Apple Pies to trigger Simone’s apple allergy. The frothy danger matches the contemporary pop culture (Jersey Shore; Urban Dictionary) and brands (Saab; OPI vs. Essie). Simone’s first-person narration is wryly funny. However, messages mix: The text name-checks feminism, then counsels passivity because being “girl-like” is bad. Palmer conflates being “officially fat” (size 16) with Tastykake binges and emotional repression, and she imbues dieting to fit a size 8 dream dress with Simone’s new feeling that “I looked like… me.” Her real dream boy is African-American—Blush, one of the seven—yet offhanded racial jabs pepper the story.
Apple-flavored cotton candy: fast and tasty, possibly slightly poisonous. (Fiction. 11-14)