Fat Chance by Leslea Newman
Life in middle school is already tough enough when you are an unsatisfied American teen like the main character Judy. Although the constant comments made by Tommy Aristo, a mom who won't even let you wear makeup, and growing up being the "fat girl" in the class doesn't make it much easier. So when Mrs. Roth the English teacher assigns the class to write in a journal periodically, Judy comes up with three goals in life that will supposedly solve all her problems: One, decide what she wants to be when she grows up; Two, get a boyfriend (preferably Richard Weiss); And three, lose weight because "Everyone knows guys like skinny girls, the skinnier the better (p. 3)". So with the help of her best friend Monica, Judy decides to do what she thinks will lead to happiness and popularity by becoming skinny. However while battling the numbers on the scale, she also discovers a risky way to stay thin, even if it that means threatening her health.
Leslea Newman did an excellent job by using realistic details and even some educational facts in this contemporary fiction novel. It has the perfect amount of drama, comedy, and even a bit of romance. She makes it easy to relate to because of the real life scenarios and issues almost all teenage girls go through, without sugar coating it or being too graphic like many other dramatic books do. It is a must read if you also liked books such as Are You There God, It's Me Margaret or Just As Long As We're Together by Judy Bloom. Newman and Bloom have a very similar writing style, however Newman usually provides a bit more detail and is more dramatic in her description. This book may take awhile to get into, but once hooked on Judy's personality and exciting turn of events, it is impossible to put down. I found myself intrigued by Newman's interesting style of simple word usage that really makes you think and feel as though you are there going through everything with Judy. Pre-teens and teenage girls everywhere would enjoy this easy read and should be required to read it in the seventh and eighth grades.