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on May 16, 2009
Melissa has a lot on her plate: dance team (will she make captain?), schoolwork (how'd she get a C in Chemistry?), and a cute new guy (will he ask her to the Sugar Plum Stomp?)

She decides that putting less on her plate -- literally -- will help her achieve her goals. After all, losing a few pounds will help her compete against the other girls on the dance team and help her fit into that perfect new prom dress.

Through Melissa's story, author Laura Smith gives readers a glimpse at the thoughts and habits of a teenage girl developing an eating disorder. Girls who struggle with obsessive-compulsive ideologies will find Melissa's struggles authentic; those who have not will gain understanding and empathy for their friends who do.

As one who spent six weeks in an inpatient Eating Disorder Unit as a teenager, I found myself thinking, "Really?" a couple times while reading Skinny. Melissa's parents seem too good to be true: understanding, supportive, and flexible. This doesn't mesh with my experience; at group counseling sessions in the EDU, parents often demanded, "Why are you doing this to us?" Also, the ease - even relish - with which Melissa gains the doctor-ordered three pounds in one week did not ring true for me. The early stages of re-gaining weight were excruciatingly hard, at least for me and and my fellow EDU inmates. Of course, these are highly subjective reactions; each girl's struggle and story is unique.

Skinny is a great book for pre-teen and teen girls, especially for a "book club" type discussion. I also recommend that mothers of pre-teens and teen girls read Skinny, both to become familiar with the tell-tale signs of an eating disorder and to spend some time in the complex and emotion-ridden world in which our girls live.
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on August 23, 2015
Typical Melissa: "Melissa opened the pantry: chips, Twinkies, cheese crackers. "Translation: fat, fat, fat," she murmured. She couldn't bring herself to eat any of it. She turned and opened the fridge: leftover bacon, grease, a slice of cheesecake, calories, lots of calories."

High school isn't easy even at its plainest. But when one adds tons of homework, a cute boyfriend, and rigorous dance classes she just might go crazy. Or go thin. Melissa feels all the pressure on her and seeks to control the one thing she can: food. But when problems go sky-high and she constantly feels hollow, will her strategy work? Doesn't God want her to be thin?

Skinny explores a topic that's pretty close to my heart - anorexia. The disorder has captivated my interest for years. Starving yourself to fit in is so easy... and so wrong. It's a problem many teenage girls get into because of all the pressure and expectations others - and they themselves - have for them. The media version of beautiful doesn't help in the least. Skinny delves into the thoughts and feelings leading to an eating disorder. Laura also shows us what God has to say about food, and that is so powerful. God is, in fact, a great Curer, and He heals to this day.

I think the story could have been even better if written in first person, not third. Also, Melissa's boyfriend was underdeveloped and could have been improved by having other dimensions besides being cute. A scene/scenes from either church or youth group would have added to the spiritual side of the novel.

Overall, Laura L. Smith has written a story that dips into a large and real problem teens face. She reminds us that God is the solution to it.

This is the first in the False Reflection series. The second and third are Hot and Angry.
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on September 19, 2013
I give this book 4 stars. I felt that it portrayed the stresses in a teen girl's life quite well. It delved into the highschool stressors that can lead into an eating disorder such as the one displayed by the main character. Melissa from the outside seemed to have it all going for her. A popular christian girl, getting `the guy', being on a cheerleading dance team, the perfect family etc. But then we go behind the scenes and see that everything is NOT perfect. Everything comes with a price or so it seems.

Melissa is looking for control in her life and the one thing she can control is what she eats.... Or doesn't.

As an adult I can see many flaws, well not really flaws, but fairytale like situations, in this book, however I believe that `tweens' would read it with gusto. I love that fact that there is also the christian message in the book of take your concerns to God and he will give you an answer if you listen.
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on May 31, 2015
This had to have been one of the most unrealistic books on anorexia that I have ever read. There was no body description, no weights given, no reason for her to have a body image issue, no previous harassment by her peers....then to top it off she lost 12 pounds total and was skin and bones? This book was terrible.
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VINE VOICEon April 1, 2009
Melissa is just your typical teenage girl who likes hanging out with her friends, hoping to catch the new guy's eye, and trying out for the dance squad. However behind her happy facade likes a dark secret that she's hidden from everyone else. Melissa has an eating disorder which she denies to even herself. She's doing everything to stay thin, even to the point of justifying that the Bible preaches that God doesn't want her to eat. She thinks she'll be able to control it but soon finds out that being too skinny just isn't worth it.

It's frustrating to read about girls who have eating disorders. You want to tell them, you don't need to lose weight, you're fine just the way you are. It pains you to see someone hurt themselves. However as uncomfortable as this topic can be, it's a serious issue that needs to be brought into the open. This book perfectly captures the life of a teenage girl with an eating disorder. Melissa is your average teenage girl who just wants to fit in during her high school years. I liked how the author made her likable and modern without being too trendy. The dialogue between the teens was realistic and perfectly captured what life is like for the average teen girl (complete with those mean girls!!). However as the story progresses, the reader soon learns that Melissa is facing a battle with herself and her body. What I thought was most interesting about Melissa's situation is that she doesn't try to lose weight because of a boy. While she does have a relationship with a guy throughout the book, he's not really a factor in her decisions to not eat. Her real reasons were more with trying to maintain control in her life, and this was the only way that she could. Side effects of eating disorders are shown to be very painful and unpleasant so hopefully girls who read this book will get the impression that extreme dieting is not the way to go. My only qualm with the book is that I felt Melissa's recovery happened much too quickly. She goes from barely eating anything to being able to choke down a whole piece of pizza. First off, why in the world her parents would buy a fully loaded pizza and expect her to eat this, after she's been diagnosed with an eating disorder is beyond me. From reading other accounts of recovering anorexics and bulimics, it would have taken her a long time to adjust to eating food again and keeping everything down. I don't have a problem with her getting well and having treatment, I just felt that it seemed a little rushed and not that realistic.

However the book is a really great read. I, myself, couldn't put it down. The writing is engaging, entertaining, and realistic. It may be a short read but it packs quite a punch. Any teen girl who's even thought about considering that not eating would be a good idea, needs to read this book.
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on May 24, 2009
Skinny was a fast and enjoyable read. Melissa is a normal teenage girl, with dance team practice, sleepovers with friends, homework, tests, and boy drama. She is struggling to hold it all together and get control of her life. Melissa works to lose weight because she thinks it will help in her quest to be picked for dance team captain, but in the process she becomes obsessive about what she eats (and everything else in her life). She tries to hide it from her friends and family, but eventually her juggling balls start dropping and she is forced to confess her problems. Only then can those closest to her start helping and show her a way back to a more normal life. Melissa's faith is also a big part of her life, and she uses scripture and prayer in her recovery.

When most people think about eating disorders, they can't understand how people could do that to themselves. This book helps the reader understand how those people transition from normal lives to stressing over every calorie. It shows how all of the little stresses in someone's life can add up to such a huge problem; one that they struggle to keep hidden from those closest to them.

The author could have gone into more detail about the character's recovery process, but all in all this was a good book and one I'd recommend to any teenage girl or her parents.
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on June 29, 2015
Skinny is about a young teen in her freshman year of high school. She's on the dance team, she's striving for top grades and keeping up with assignments and tough course work. She's popular and on the dance team and striving for the goal of team captain and she's in love with star athlete Beau who at times seems distant. She begins to diet like many young women and eventually eating becomes the one thing that she can control.

As her life begins to spiral out of control, will she lose control of herself? And who in the end has control, her or the eating disorder?

This is an awesome book for all teens, especially those suffering from self-image issues and eating disorders.

Author Laura Smith's characterization was awesome and the stories plot flows beautifully. She try captures the everyday angst and joys of teen-life and gives the reader a glimpse of the struggles of eating disorders and how easily anyone can slip into one. I highly recommend this book!
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on December 25, 2014
As a believer in Christ, as well as being very concerned and afraid of what my peers are thinking of me, I connected with Melissa. I feel bulky and large everyday, and am even afraid that God views me the way I view me, but then I remember what He did for us, and I realize that He thinks that I am beautiful no matter what. And no matter how upset or angry I am with myself, He will always love me, just how Melissa felt about it herself.
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on April 6, 2014
Well written. Kept readers interest. Even though it was about a high school girl the parents made good decisions on the issues their daughter was having and helped her in a calm, loving and Godly way.
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on May 30, 2012
This book struck me as the author writting what she thinks an eating disorder is like rather than doing research and presenting the reality of them.
As someone who has experience up close and personal with an eating disorder (my sister) I was insulted by the breezy way the topic was covered in the book. The reality and dangers of eating disorders were not even touched upon. Well, except for those totally unbelieveable 'fainting' moments. The characters were bland, unbelieveable and clueless. And the idea that a person with such a disorder can just decide to follow dr's order and gain 3lbs a week is just wrong. People don't just do that. It takes intense mental health work and long stretches of one step forward two steps back trying just to stay above water. The OCD part of eating disorders was barely touched on here but it is a large part of these disorders and a very hard part to get through.
People die from eating disorders (Karen Carpenter anyone? don't know her? Look it up) and to present them in the light this author does is wrong. As if all a person has to do is decide to eat more. That is not reality.
It is a battle for my sister daily to not fall back into those old patterns, and we are now in our 30's. She worked and works hard at it. And always will. That is reality. Not this book.
Skip it and find a more real book to share with your teens about this issue. This book is fantasy pure and simple and has no basis in reality.
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