From Publishers Weekly
With wisdom, humor and surprising candor, Wilensky (Passing for Normal) shares the story of two sisters (one year apart) from earliest memory into adulthood. The relationship's bonds and boundaries take on increasing complexity as Wilensky charts her older sister Alison's journey from morbid obesity to thinness following gastric bypass surgery in her late 20s. "Your siblings are the only other citizens from a country nobody else will ever visit," the author observes, but it becomes apparent that these two sisters-despite their closeness-lived in very different places; while they could be strong allies, they were also formidable antagonists. The author's empathy for Alison is stronger now that they are adults. "Alison's weight was and remains so far down on my list of how I would describe her that it would come after `master Othello player,' `makes her own fruit-infused vodkas,' and `has an uncanny ability to find a parking spot in any city in the country,' " declares Wilensky. But this blind spot also meant she was unable to offer comfort to Alison as she encountered the subtle and overt discrimination faced by the obese, affronts detailed in the book. And Wilensky admits she was not above taunting her sister for putting too much butter on a baked potato. The author's recollections shine with love and offer the insights afforded by the passage of time. Wilensky masterfully tells a story that she recognizes is not truly hers to tell.
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Wilensky's younger sister Allison drops 189 pounds in almost three years, the result of gastric bypass surgery. Jewellike moments in the girls' parallel lives, separated by the chasm of Allison's obesity, are embedded in Wilensky's narrative: the annual pediatric appointment when Amy silently registers the fact that she is taller yet lighter than her sister; the discovery of tell-tale empty chips and cookie bags under Allison's bed; the climactic moment when Allison installs a padlock on her bedroom door. After providing extensive details about gastric bypass and its aftermath, the bottom line, according to the author, is that "a fat person is not a statistic . . . a fat person is somebody's little sister." Deborah DonovanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved