Friday, October 12, 2012

Commentary and Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Publisher:  Point
Publication Date:  October 1st, 2012

Find your voice.

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it. 

But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)


Skinny was a difficult book to read, but a powerful one nonetheless.  Usually YA books concerning weight and food issues deal with anorexia and/or bulimia; Skinny deals with the opposite- Ever is 15 years old, 5'6" tall, and is over 300 pounds.  Ever deals with anything and everything negative that happens in her life by eating.  She knows she shouldn't have that fourth muffin or that second Snickers, but she can't help it.  Add to that the vicious little voice in her head who goes by the name Skinny.  Every time something happens that Ever doesn't like, Skinny pipes up to mess with Ever's head.  When Ever has something horrible happen to her in public, as a result of her weight, she makes the decision to undergo Gastric Bypass surgery.  This book follows Ever on her journey to, through, and post surgery.  It celebrates her triumphs, but also makes the reader aware that this was no risk-free, easy fix, which was really important, in my mind.  There were a couple of issues that plagued me though...  The first is a biggie- Ever isn't very likable.  She is actually pretty mean and self-absorbed.  She has a negative view of herself and has put up walls because of it, and much of the time, those walls were made of pure vitriol.  That said, Ever did come around some, but I never really felt like I liked her much.  Sure, I was rooting for her, but I still didn't like her much.  Second, I felt like the whole thing had a little bit of a fairy-tale element that I think detracted from what the story COULD have been.  The romantic element was a bit cheesy and I felt like Ever had a little bit too easy of a time adjusting socially after the surgery- high school is NOT like that...  Aside from those issues though, I think Donna Cooner did a great job with the feelings.  I've never been overweight, so I can't be sure, but in the end notes it says that she had similar success with Gastric Bypass.  I'm sure that is one of the reasons for her intimate knowledge of Ever's mindset, and I think that's awesome because this book needed to be written.  The best part for me was when Ever confronts Skinny in the end because I never expected what came with it.  Really powerful!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  This is primarily a book for girls, and it is a book all tween and teen girls should read.  It's pretty clean, and although there are some intense emotional moments, the content is fine for 5th grade and up (ages 10+).


 What really struck me, what I found most thought-provoking about Skinny, was that even though Ever was teased some by the kids at school, most of the bullying Ever endured came from within.  Ever's biggest bully was herself and her internal dialogue with Skinny.  October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and I was going to re-post a review of a book on the subject, that I have so much love for, called Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (read that review HERE), but as I read Skinny, it started to dawn on me that for some of us, WE are our own biggest bully.  I was never really bullied in school, but I sure beat myself up when I didn't measure up to my own impossible standards, and I think there are A LOT of people out there like me; especially girls and women.  Destructive self-talk is so damaging to the soul, but it is never addressed as "bullying", even though is often has the same end result- depression, suicide, emotional scarring...  Some of the most "perfect" people I know have some of the lowest self-esteem and are some of the most emotionally damaged, but it all comes from within.  I guess what I'm saying is that in honor of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, to make sure that you are not only working to prevent people from bullying other people, but also thinking about how you treat yourself and how those around you do the same.  Sometimes a kind word is all that is needed to battle that bully inside someone's head...

A big shout out to Amy at Lady Reader's Bookstuff and Jodie at Uniquely Moi Books for hosting an awesome National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month event!  For more great posts and giveaways, stop by either of their blogs!


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Karis. It is much appreciated. I am actually really excited to read this novel and have been for awhile. Thanks for the review and promoting our event!

    You rock.


  2. Such an important message, especially given what just happened with Amanda Todd :( I agree about the self-bullying though, even now that I'm older I still catch myself doing it sometimes and have to remind myself that I am my own hardest critic.

  3. My goodness, you speak such truth! The media has really distorted our views of beauty, and we never appreciate the good things about us, which are plenty! Society, as a whole, focuses on the negative. We need to work HARD to change our perspective and start loving who we are and stop trying to be someone we will never friggin be. We will always be our own worst critic and we need to realize that what we see is often very different from what the world sees!

    I look forward to reading this one!

  4. You're right. Internal bullying is something we don't hear a whole lot about and it's something we should.

  5. I think the message is really true, a lot of the bullying/pressure comes from within ourselves. I know that every time I'm feeling down I end up going online and typing "is size six fat" - and inevitably I'll find an answer saying yes and feel worse. I feel like in today's society you are either skinny or overweight, there is no normal anymore, at least not that is depicted in the media.


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