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In her first middle-grade novel, Fry, a PW contributor, pens a straightforward but heartfelt novel about an obese boy who joins his school's cross-country team. Since Bennett's mother died, he has lived alone with his similarly overweight father in a loving, but junk food–filled household. When Bennett's father has a stroke, the 13-year-old tells him, "you and me have some changes to make." Bennett goes to live with a nagging aunt, who puts him on a healthier diet and forces him to walk each morning, but Bennett's own desire to change motivates him to take action. Some characterizations are reductive—such as a bully who calls Bennett "Fat Boy," but has his own painful home life—and the story's trajectory has its predictable elements. Even so, readers will grasp the intensity of Bennett's fear about trying something so outside his comfort zone ("What if I try—I mean give it absolutely everything I have—and still fail?") and appreciate his tenacity as he does the hard work to get himself on track. —Publisher's Weekly Oct, 2012
Since his mom died when he was five, Bennett and his dad have been enough for each other. Their favorite pastime is cheering on the Dodgers in front of the TV with burgers and fries close at hand. Then his father has a stroke, and Bennett goes to live with relatives. At first he resents Aunt Laura’s controlling nature as she cuts fast food from his diet and encourages him not so subtly to lead a healthier lifestyle. But seeing his dad in a coma has shaken him. Uncle Jim suggests they start walking together, and soon Bennett is jogging. His interest is sparked when he sees cross-country team flyers at school, and he apprehensively attends the first meeting of the season. As he gets involved in the sport, he has moments of sheer misery when he wants to quit, but the dawning realization that he is improving enables him to stand up to being harassed and to better help his father through a slow recovery. Even when his best friend, also overweight, tries to discourage him from his new interests, Bennett perseveres. While this story tackles serious topics, it is not heavy-handed: Bennett is engaging, and readers will recognize many of the challenges that he faces. The way that he matures as he juggles visits to his convalescing father with his other commitments and learns to appreciate his extended family is believable and inspiring. Fry has a great ear for middle school dialogue, and her light, humorous touch will ensure that readers keep turning the pages until the uplifting conclusion. —School Library Journal November 2012 Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VASee all Editorial Reviews
This book is great for everyone, and is very inspiring. At some points the author carries on a little too much explaining things and describing situations, but overall this is a... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Jhonatan Rosen
It was very interesting and fun to read. I think it will inspire you too.
- Rylee 11 years old
A great read. Very real characters. A great story with themes of persistence, fitness, friendship, cross-country running, how to deal with bullying, courage.Published 3 months ago by Polly Carlson-Voiles
It's a good book but really long, sad at some parts and the characters are well developed
I think it is worth a read
The book is a great reminder that in order to win you gave to work. I think that it is also an awesome success story.Published 3 months ago by TTHawk
I really enjoyed this sweet story about overweight Bennett overcoming adversity. It was just a random pick, but I'm so glad that I did!Published 4 months ago by Jared H.
Cool story. my sister gave me this to read. It is really worth reading.Published 5 months ago by Douglas Elam