At first glance, my YA contemporary novel 45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) sounds like a typical weight loss issue novel. Girl feels fat. Girl goes on diet. Girl loses weight (more or less). Girl is empowered. While some of that is true, this story is much more.
- My main character, Ann, is not an outcast. She is overweight and always has been, but her struggle is more typical to what average girls experience every day. Her self-conscious, self-deprecating internal dialogue is humorous, yet real. Anyone who’s ever felt fat and inadequate trying on swimsuits or formal dresses will relate.
- This is not an ugly-duckling-turns-beautiful-and-gets-a-boyfriend story. This is a girl-discovers-herself journey (even though I find the word journey kind of trite) and has endlessly embarrassing and awkward encounters with a cute, yet imperfect, guy.
- The story’s not just about Ann’s weight. It’s also about family and secrets and acceptance. It’s about friendship and fitting in and fending off bitches. And it’s about romance, too.
- Ann is not the only character with issues. Her grandmother unapologetically chain smokes and endearingly (and sometimes not so endearingly) calls everyone fat ass, and her step-grandmother Regina gives new meaning to the word intolerable. Don’t even get me started on Ann’s parents! Pretty much the only characters who have it remotely together are Aunt Jackie and her fiancé Chris—that’s Christine, not Christopher. Yes, there’s a lot going on here.
- There are also nacho cheese pretzels and deep dish pizza and M&Ms and Mondo Burgers and chicken parm with extra breadsticks, all of which is much more appetizing than the Belly Buster Bars and diet lasagna.
So while the weight issue has been covered before, Ann Galardi’s story is unique. Yet, also familiar, because it’s about imperfect people all trying to figure out where they fit.