From Publishers Weekly
) rips into the dangerous pursuit of body perfection at the expense of the soul in this stinging and mordantly witty satire. In the too-near future (watch out, Dr. Phil!), the Reverend Earl, a godlike "guru of the good life," broadcasts from his Glass Cathedral, promoting the nirvana of the "Afterfat," which can only be achieved by following his bible's formula of relentless exercise, cosmetic interventions and use of his special dietary supplement. A cast of delicious characters, caught like insects in day-glo amber, features bewildered twin teens Betz and Danny Abercrombie. The brothers are searching for their anorexic sister Annie, who's been shipped off to a convent created by Earl for sinners with eating disorders and run by the very scary Dedicated Sisters. Their confused but well-meaning mom turns for help to an eccentric underground railroad of religious clerics of various denominations who would love to see Earl destroyed before he launches his next program, Solutions. In the rousing endgame, aging stockbroker Jeremy Devlin enters Earl's high-ticket desert spa to lose weight and discovers the dark heart at the core of Earl's empire. With this sharp-eyed look at America's obsession with image, Reed provides much food for thought and reaffirms her position as one of our brightest cultural commentators.
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*Starred Review* Imagine a not-so-distant future in which idolatry of everything youthful, perfect, and beautiful has become the only religion, and natural aging, with its spare-tire midriffs, cheesy thighs, and wrinkly faces, is a punishable sin. Such is the perfect setting for the megalomaniacal Reverend Earl to thrive and prosper. From coast to coast, Reverend Earl's luxury spa, Sylphania, is all the rage, and to it the overweight flock for personally supervised weight-loss programs and plenty of preaching on the heavenly state of the Afterfat. For troubled teens suffering with anorexia, bulimia, and overweight, there are the reverend's "convents," in which the "proper" ways to eat and think are taught, and to one of these her parents consign anorexic Annie. When her siblings discover she's gone, and the folks won't talk, they sense big trouble. They set off with Annie's boyfriend to find her and bring her home. Unlikely people, in particular an underground network of religions that recalls a time when gods, not flesh, were worshipped, help them. Reed's visionary tale is brilliant, though at times painful to read. Still, the main characters all come to realize their strengths, who they are, and what is really important. Paula LuedtkeCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved