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The Weight of It: A Story of Two Sisters Hardcover – February 5, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (February 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805073124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805073126
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,930,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

This was a tedious, annoying book.
Joanna Mikkelsen
It's by the SISTER of someone who had weight loss surgery, so really has no idea what the experience is like.
James Allen
It seemed to me that the author and her sister never had a close relationship growing up.
"worldclasskennelclub"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on February 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Early in THE WEIGHT OF IT, Amy Wilensky walks by her sister and fails to recognize her. That's because Alison has lost nearly 200 pounds. When Amy and Alison were children, they were sometimes mistaken for twins, but Alison began to gain weight while Amy stayed small. Alison became morbidly obese in her teen years and underwent gastric surgery in her twenties.
As Amy remembers the transformations her sibling has undergone, she asserts that "the more things change, the more they stay the same." In so many ways, vibrant Alison has always been just her younger sister to Amy, no matter what her size. Indeed, her exuberant sister's weight is one of the last ways Amy would describe her. However, the world --- and Alison herself --- placed much more emphasis on Alison's obesity or thinness. These reactions unavoidably flavored the sisters' relationship.
The story about the two sisters is part of a more encompassing view as the author puts her sister's situation in perspective by describing obesity in our society. She notes dispassionately that around sixty million Americans are considered morbidly obese. They are discriminated against in the workplace. These people are often ignored, teased, put-down, joked about and belittled --- treatment likely to affect their mental well-being. Why, Amy wonders, are people so afraid of and cruel to heavy people?
The physical struggles of being overweight are often obvious: airplane and movie seats may be too small, it's hard to find nice clothes, and most sports and other activities might be impossible. Other physical problems are more hidden, such as aches from standing or walking, breathing difficulties, and stress on the heart.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Amy's sister Alison certainly sounds like a person that would be fascinating to know...immensely creative, complicated and colorful. I enjoyed reading about her very much. However, the subject of her weight gain and loss is not nearly enough to carry this book. It might have been, if she herself had written the book, but reading about someone's else's weight issues from a sister's perspective is not, frankly, that interesting. I'm not saying that Amy Wilensky is not a skilled writer, for she certainly is, and I loved a lot of the little details included here, but I think she would have done better to write a general family memoir or a portrait of her sister overall.
I also found upon finishing the book that I didn't really completely get her perspective and feelings about her sister pinned down. The book starts with a scene on an airplane where her sister Alison is portroyed quite negatively, and scattered throughout the book are other scenes like this. Sometimes they seem to be out of the narrative flow and I am not sure why they are included in the way they are...they seem a little mean-spirited alongside the more balanced parts of her characterization of Alison. I think perhaps Amy's feelings are still a bit in flux about her sister, and this book may have been better written with the perspective of a few more years.
I would not discourage buying or reading this book, and in fact I am quite eager to read Amy's other book, Passing for Normal, but I would not buy it if you are mainly interesting in reading about weight issues or weight loss surgery.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a memoir, I got that Amy was writing about HER experience, and her own identity in relation to her sister. But somehow, I still needed to see more about her sister, Alison. I read the book jacket again after I finished the book, and ultimately I think it missed the mark: the jacket writes about the stranger that Alison became post-op, but its hardly what was covered in the book. Indeed, we learn very little about Alison at all, and Amy appears guarded in discussing the relationship, almost clinical in her description of their relationship. There are some strong moments, but very little tenderness, and a lot of the drama falls flat.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "worldclasskennelclub" on March 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a person considering weight loss surgery, I've been interested in learning more about how the surgery has affected people's relationships. After hearing lots of good things about this book, I eagerly sat down to read it. I cannot express how disappointed I was.
I grew tired of reading of the author's jealousy of her sister. (she was jealous that her sister got new clothes because she kept outgrowing them? Get REAL!) This jealousy started out as toddlers and was evident even after her sister had the WLS (jealous of all the friends at a birthday bash, jealous of her great apartment, etc etc).
I also grew frustrated with the contradictions that kept popping up. In one chapter, it is said that the girl's had a stash of candy in a drawer, while later she said there was never candy in the house?!
It seemed to me that the author and her sister never had a close relationship growing up. She insists she didn't know how truly unhappy her sister was being an overweight teen. I guess the fact that her sister drew away from society, locked herself in her room, didn't care to go out weren't enough clues.
If only I could get those 4 hours of my life back that I wasted reading this book...
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