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Life in the Fat Lane Hardcover – February 9, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 182 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A beauty queen develops a rare (and fictional) weight-gaining disorder. "Reading this often artificial novel for insight into [issues of weight, self-image and beauty] is a little like eating peanut M&Ms for the protein, but it's a similarly addictive experience," said PW. Ages 12-up. (Aug..-- is a little like eating peanut M&Ms for the protein, but it's a similarly addictive experience," said PW. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up?Lara, 16, is just what most girls want to be: thin, beautiful, and smart. She's dating one of the cutest boys in school, and she's popular. Then she notices that she's gained a few pounds. Unconcerned, she starts to work out harder and watches what she eats. However, her weight keeps going up, and soon Lara weighs over 200 pounds. She spends a week in a hospital on a controlled liquid diet, and the doctors and nutritionists can't understand why she becomes even heavier. Suddenly, she is no longer popular and is faced with ridicule from everyone around her. The story of Lara's weight gain is set against a backdrop of her outwardly perfect, but deeply troubled family life: her father is having a long-term affair, her mother is insecure and obsessed with her (and Lara's) appearance, and her younger brother is angry and rebellious. All of these characters and situations are skillfully drawn, resulting in a compelling story. Bennett captures the voices of teenagers well and offers insight into what it's like to be overweight in a society that is so caught up in appearances. Lara is further challenged when she finds out that the cause of her sudden weight gain is Axell-Crowne Syndrome (readers learn in an author's note that the disease is fictional). This plot device allows for more insight into Lara's character, as she struggles with being overweight through no "fault" of her own. While the fabrication of the disease may surprise or even disappoint some readers, most will find this an enjoyable and thought-provoking read.?Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (February 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385322747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385322744
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,292,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
OK, I confess: I'm a 30 - year old mother with a career, and I'm still reading teenage fiction. How sad is that? Not at all, actually, when it's written as well as this book. Imagine: you are lovely Lara, Little Miss Popular, Homecoming Queen. Life is sweet. Mammy's rich and Daddy is good looking. Your boyfriend is deep and sensitive(even if not quite as popular as the one you dumped last year). You are friends with the cool crowd and wonder on occasions if your best friend Molly, who has a tendency to speak her mind and carries a few pounds too many, matches up. But you are a good girl, who offers Molly and other plump unfortunates condescending advice on how to improve themselves. And then you get fat. Not just a little overweight, but really, massively fat.Even without eating anything .Your positive attitude and discipline don't seem to help. Suddenly you are at the receiving end of pitying glances and "helpful" advice.You are no longer cool or cute. Your boyfriend still loves you but"just isn't in love anymore..." This excellent and inventive book deals with the inner turmoil of a Prom Queen's descent into fat hell. What I liked best was that the author resolutely refuses all easy cop outs. Lara now knows how fat people feel, but it makes her no wiser.The fat girl that she has patronised doesn't suddenly become her best friend. No, she visits Lara in hospital and gloats at her misfortune. Lara doesn't fall in love with the fat boy at her new school, they don't go on a diet and live happily ever after. But Lara does learn to live with her condition and learns a few hard lessons in the process. The quality of the writing is superb. All in all, a worthwhile book not only for adolescents.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was looking forward to reading this book because it dealt with a topic that's very personal to me: being thin for most of your life and then suddenly gaining a lot of weight due to having a metabolic disorder. This happened to me a few years ago, and I was recently put on medication for my problem. I've never let my change in appearance get me down, though, and I was anticipating reading a story which featured a plus-sized heroine who isn't defined by her looks.

Boy, was I disappointed. Though the book is well-written, I found the narrator, Lara, to be incredibly shallow and conceited. And it pained me that all she did was whine about being "huge" and no longer popular. Yes, it's understandable that she'd be concerned about gaining so much weight in such a short amount of time - who wouldn't be worried about their body going through a drastic change? - but I wish some of her and her parents' concerns had been about her health (potential heart problems, etc.) I also didn't think the story sent out a positive message to the age group that it's intended for. We only see Lara kinda-sorta come to terms with being plus-sized in the very last chapter. Until then, she's resigned to being an "unattractive" outcast .. and when she "accepts" herself, it's mainly because it's suggested that she's on her way to becoming "normal" again. So, did Lara even really learn anything? It's hard to say. As far as I could tell, she was still judgmental and shallow even at the end of the story.

I wish that we'd seen more of an evolution of her going from hating herself to finding ways to love the new her.
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Format: Paperback
Honestly, people who are looking for honest character growth from Lara are missing the point. A novel doesn't have to have its character understand a moral for the reader to understand it. Lara is a beautiful, wealthy, talented, bright, spoiled girl - and she is a nice person, or at least she thinks she is. She doesn't realize her snap judgments about people, her shallowness, or the other flaws in her character, but how many 16-year-old girls honestly can? As with any unreliable-narrator novel, the reader can see the world both through Lara's eyes and through his/her own and perhaps gain some insights into the way that society views weight and body image.

I think it's important that Lara's weight gain is out of her control because she - and many people, especially girls with eating disorders - associate a fit, trim figure with self-control and view it as a positive trait. Lara's struggle with her lack of control over her weight was, to me, one of the most valuable parts of the book. If she had gained weight through her own "fault," i.e. inability to maintain a diet and exercise plan, the book would not have been as compelling because it would have reinforced the value of willpower in the mind of the reader. When I first read this book eight years ago, I was a young teenager not far from Lara's starting size, which I maintained through extremely restrictive dieting and almost constant exercise. If Lara had gained weight because of a lack of self-control, the book would have done nothing to change my mindset.
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