How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love [NOOK Book]

Overview

“Thick. Heavy. Big-boned. Plump. Full-figured. Chunky. Womanly.” To Emery Jackson, these phrases are just nice euphemisms for the big “F” word of “fat.” But to her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former Laker Girls mother, they are unacceptable states of being.

Emery’s cash-strapped family’s solution? Signing up for a reality TV show in which Emery will have ...

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How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love

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Overview

“Thick. Heavy. Big-boned. Plump. Full-figured. Chunky. Womanly.” To Emery Jackson, these phrases are just nice euphemisms for the big “F” word of “fat.” But to her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former Laker Girls mother, they are unacceptable states of being.

Emery’s cash-strapped family’s solution? Signing up for a reality TV show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win a million dollars.

As the pounds start to drop and the ratings skyrocket, Emery feels the weight of success. And she must figure out how to turn the truths she uncovers—about beauty, love, fame, and family—into the keys to more than just fortune.



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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Emery, a colorful, outspoken, and compelling narrator, is a truth-teller and a truth-seeker whose internal and external struggles have that stick-to-your-ribs quality (without the calories). Baker clearly illustrates the everyday battles many girls deal with and sends the message that they’re not alone and that they are in control.”
—Booklist

“[R]eaders who are fans of the reality and help show genres, especially those who enjoyed Demetrios’ Something Real may appreciate this insider’s look at how such a show is made, marketed, and critiqued by one of its participants.”
—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (BCCB)

How I got Skinny is refreshing, whimsical, hilarious, and inspiring. Any woman can relate to this book, and every man should read it, if they want a little better understanding of women.”
—Examiner.com

“This book is alternately hilarious, heartfelt and honest. Ken Baker’s years as a journalist covering celebrities and pop culture have served him well. I wish Emery Jackson was a real person. I want to meet her!"
—Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s and I'll Be There

“A sharp, funny book for anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and felt disappointed. With surgical precision, Ken Baker cuts to the heart of our love affair with external validation and reminds us to stop letting other people tell our story.”
—Aaron Hartzler, author of Rapture Practice

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love truly benefits from the keen observations of its Hollywood insider author, Ken Baker. Knowing this world up close and personal allows Baker to seamlessly hit on hot button topics of weight loss, body image and fame that are sure to spark discussion. Emery’s voice is fun and witty, making her a main character I wanted to cheer on. Add this one to your summer reading list because it’s perfect for poolside!”
—Marisa Reichardt, YoungAdultish.com

"This book is more than a tale of weight loss and reality TV drama; it's also a reminder that the most important relationship we have is the one with ourselves."
—Dr. Jenn Berman, Host of VH1's "Couples Therapy" & The Dr. Jenn Show on Sirius XM

"In Emery Jackson, Ken Baker has created a colorful yet compelling character with whom many teenage girls can relate and empathize. Although Emery's weight-loss journey in front of the cameras is extreme, this story is also an instructive and vital read for anyone who wants to better understand the internal struggle many girls and young women face on a daily basis. Moreover he illustrates how, sadly, the media and celebrity culture often feeds their insecurities. Baker's insider understanding of our media's obsession with weight shines through in a story that is both entertaining and important."
—Dr. Drew Pinsky

“Through hilarity and thought-provoking insights, Ken Baker hits the mark... Given the premise of Mr. Baker’s book, which is for Emery to face her obesity head-on, he cleverly broke it down into four distinct parts with chapter headings of: I. Appetizer, II. Soup or Salad, III. Entrée, and IV. Dessert. As the story evolves, just like a great meal, the book becomes more appealing the further the reader ingests the text. He doesn’t use flowery language or site statistics. Rather, the story is peppered throughout with the inner thoughts of the mind, situations and raw feelings of a teenaged girl. He has demonstrated sound confidence of showcasing his writing ability through his story line of a solid voice that is truly supported by obvious research and knowledge of the topic. This is by far, a book every young girl/woman should read - ‘obese’ (or not). Well done Mr. Baker! Quill says: This book will have you laughing out loud, checking your own mirror and it could possibly nudge you into replacing the script running in your head with a new and improved way of taking charge of your own existence.”
—Feathered Quill Book Reviews

"an excellent satire for contemporary society’s materialism and obsession with fame. It has opened my eyes to the monstrosity that is reality TV and the way companies simultaneously encourage obesity and advertize ultra thinness. These messages were all conveyed through the eyes of a witty and clever protagonist, making them all the more meaningful."
—Bethesda Teen Reads

School Library Journal
06/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—Emery Jackson, daughter of a former model and a basketball star, and sister to an aspiring TV host, has begrudgingly accepted her role as the snarky, pleasantly plump sister with a pretty face. An opportunity arises for the dysfunctional Southern Californian family to be showcased in a reality TV show that will follow the protagonist as she tries to lose 50 pounds in 50 days. Emery undergoes physical, emotional, and psychological challenges as she deals with the backlash and privacy issues that are part and parcel with her instant celebrity status, in addition to her rigorous diet and exercise regime. While important and relevant topics such as self-worth and slut-shaming are broached in the narrator's YouTube monologues, which are interspersed throughout the narrative, these themes barely skim the surface of this problematic novel. An uneven treatment of her bout with an eating disorder and an out-of-left-field reveal at the end, will keep teens from connecting with Emery. Even though the main character is technically obese, the description of her weight and height don't completely jive with how she describes herself in the mirror. Whether this is due to Emery's negative self-image is never made clear by the author. For a more nuanced take on body issues in YA, offer mature readers Erin Jade Lange's Butter (Bloomsbury, 2012) or Kody Keplinger's The Duff (Little, Brown, 2010).—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-26
A fat teen employs patently unsafe weight-loss techniques on reality television and gets skinny. Emery's face-lifted, Botoxing mother named her after a manicure tool, yet somehow Emery doesn't fit in with her swimsuit-model, boob-enhanced sister or fitness-freak father. What if she weren't fat? She acquiesces to the filming of a weight-loss reality show in her home, wanting the prize—if Emery loses 50 pounds in 50 days, she'll win $1,000,000—but author Baker, chief news correspondent of E! Entertainment Television, makes skinniness itself the golden goal, snarkily bashing fatness from the start. The show's producers require intense exercise and severe calorie restriction; behind their backs, Emery adds laxative tea and Adderall. Attempts to satirize the extremity—the nutritionist who takes Emery down to 790 calories per day authored How to Eat without Actually Eating—have the impact of Post-it notes on a billboard. Baker wants it both ways: Laxatives, speed and "insanely low" calories give Emery both "an eating disorder" and "good habits," a cognitive disconnect if ever there was one; moreover, the eating disorder vanishes after its single mention, ending the story on a bizarrely upbeat note. Continuity inconsistencies may well drive readers crazy; that 790-calorie diet could well be a 395-calorie diet, for instance, but it's just not clear. Family secrets and reality TV twists aside, this is a cheap instruction guide for dangerous dieting. A biggest loser. (Fiction. 14-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762452033
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/22/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 363,809
  • Age range: 13 years
  • File size: 391 KB

Meet the Author

Ken Baker is E! Entertainment Television’s Chief News Correspondent. He is the author of Fangirl. He lives (and writes) in Hermosa Beach, California. You can visit him online at kenbakernow.com or via Twitter @kenbakernow.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2014

    Cute story

    Fast easy read. Great message and unique story line told in a tasteful manner.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Everyone has their own coping mechanism, mine is to keep myself

    Everyone has their own coping mechanism, mine is to keep myself so busy I can’t think about it. Making lists upon lists of things that I want to complete. It is this sense of accomplishment, watching projects getting crossed off my lists, this propels me forward. Inside Emery’s house, everyone copes with life’s ups and down differently as her mom cleans, her dad works out, Angel puts on makeup, and Emery eats. Tipping the scale at obese, Emery eating has gotten out of control. Her parents try to influence Emery into a healthier lifestyle but Emery seems content with the way she is and her boyfriend Ben says he loves her the way she is. What would it take for 16 year-old Emery to lose the weight? How about a reality show where Emery is the main star and the family is offered a million dollars to document her weight loss story? Emery decides this might be the time to change her life. With only fifty days to lose fifty pounds, Emery must begin exercising and eating foods which have never passed her lips before. With her sarcastic humor and frank voice, I found Emery amusing and entertaining as she dealt with some serious issues. I appreciated how she jumped right in and struggled with her weight issue, voicing her frustration and she didn’t pass the blame or deny the problem. She was real and she tells it straight from the heart. Food may seem like the only issue out on the table but there are other problems that correlate once she starts to address her weight. I love the title and I am reminded, just how skinny is skinny?

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  • Posted June 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I was pitched this book for review from the publisher, along wit

    I was pitched this book for review from the publisher, along with another title (Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell - you can find that review here) and was kind of on the fence about it. The title sounded like something I wouldn't be drawn into and the synopsis didn't add much spark to my interest. The title sat on my TBR pile for a few weeks before I got to it this weekend- and devoured it in one sitting.
    Blown away.
    I was so impressed with this ya novel. It isn't about a vapid girl looking to shed weight and become famous - it is about a girl who is aching inside and gets on a reality tv show to help her family. Turns out, she is helping more than her family. She is helping herself become the strong, healthy, independent, happy young lady she is. She is helping innumerable amounts of young women who watch her vlog posts. She is helping others who are in need of getting fit and healthy. She is helping the world and she doesn't even realize it until she is knee-deep in the reality of reality tv.
    Emery is a tough kid. Putting up walls helped her survive being overweight. Now she is shedding weight and breaking down those walls. As a main character, I found her incredibly real and inspiring. So much so that I honestly think this needs to be required reading for teenage girls. She promotes self-love, growth, fighting stereotypes, and building each other up instead of breaking each other down. It is impressive. I can guarantee that young girls will relate to her character, without a doubt. The characters that Baker has developed are genuine and easy to understand. They grow as they story moves forward.
    In addition to the great character development, I was wholly impressed with the way the story was portrayed. It easily could have been a Mean Girls or Clueless style tale, but what Baker really did was write a book about the struggles of overweight teenagers (specifically girls) and make it as honest as possible. It shows the inner workings of the teenage mind, the inner workings of family and sibling rivalry, the drama of high school, and of course the reality of "reality" television. The morals of the story are plenty. Get healthy for you (not anyone else), trust your gut, challenge the norm, stand up for yourself and others, be kind, and treat every day like gold. Baker crafted a moving story that I think is very powerful, especially for teenage girls. I think this will remind them that what they feel about their bodies ins't abnormal, but that it also isn't healthy. It will shed some light on all the things us adults tell the kids about society, but they refuse to hear. I really want young girls to read this book, it is a wonderful story and one with so much power to change the reader.

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  • Posted May 19, 2014

    This was a hilarious yet touching story of not only just a "

    This was a hilarious yet touching story of not only just a "fat girl" trying to come to terms with herself and her body, but also a satire against "reality" TV. I think for the most part, we are all aware how staged reality TV actually is, but this gave us a closer, actual look at how things are behind the scenes.

    Emery is 16-years-old, the black sheep of an otherwise "perfect" family. Her father is never home, her mother is obsessed with her looks and getting her husband to notice her (spoiler: nothing works) and having a perfect family, and her sister is just obsessed with herself. Emery deals with her stress about her family by eating, which has led to her being severely obese. She's fine with it, until her mother wants her to sign up for a reality TV show where she would have to lose 50 pounds in 50 days.

    Emery was so...real. She had her flaws, and that made her much easier to relate with. She is just a teen girl. There are enough problems with that as it is, but she has to deal with this crazy family on top of that. She was hilarious and fun, although she did spend a lot of time making fun of herself or being self-deprecating, to mask her pain. And although she acted like she had no care in the world, everything her family said hurt, but she is a master at hiding her pain.

    I don't know how Baker did it (especially being a dude) but Emery's voice was so real and perfect. He was able to exactly capture the essence of a teenage girl and her struggles. Sure, she might have some issues and flaws, but so does every teenage girl, and hers were realistic. She was still a likeable character, one that you will be rooting for.

    The rest of the characters, although not worth mentioning separately, were also entertaining. Their depth--or purposeful lack of--was enough for them to help serve their purpose for the story without either taking over or fading too much into the background. Ben was also such a sweetheart. I do like that the romance was one that was already there. There was no hot guy that only liked her after she got hot. Ben was already there for here from the beginning, no matter what happened or what she looked like. (Okay, slight disappointment that nothing happened with Ryan. No fear, there wasn't a love triangle or anything.)

    Baker's writing will keep you entertained. You will laugh, but you will also feel for Emery. I admire the way she handled everything that was thrown at her. Emery grows and matures throughout the story, and that speaks a lot for her character. I also appreciate the themes of loving yourself first and being comfortable in your own body, no matter what it looks like. 

    The secrets were a bit predictable, and I think there needed to be a lot more closure at the end. However, this was still a very enjoyable read, one that I would recommend. 

    I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

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  • Posted May 14, 2014

    Through hilarity and thought-provoking insights, Ken Baker hits

    Through hilarity and thought-provoking insights, Ken Baker hits the mark in his incredibly believable work of fiction: How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love.

    While this may be a work of fiction, the premise of this book is a resounding truth when it comes to teens and obesity in our world today. Main character Emery Jackson is a sixteen-year-old high school junior. She lives in a little piece of heaven: Highland Beach, California. She has a pretty face and that’s about as far as it goes. She’s not an “It” girl, an athlete or a sought after ‘BFF.’ Rather, she is 199 pounds packed onto a 5’6” frame and most of her days are filled with thoughts of how she can abscond with another double cheeseburger and super sized fries. Her mission: orchestrating the crime without her former LA Lakers Cheerleader mom figuring out her daughter’s daily crimes toward yet another food fest with her passion for unhealthy food choices...

    However, there is one trump card Emery holds to maintain her personal preservation. She knows she is obese and willingly acknowledges the situation. She defies her mother about her weight problem every time she reaches for another hidden candy bar from her panty drawer stash. Her underwear model sister, Angel, is everything Emery isn’t. She is a cheerleader. She is an “It” girl and she is drop-dead gorgeous in her 5’9,” 119 pound frame. She is a contender for talk show hostess fame on her horizon and certainly the eye candy satisfaction to all she encounters. Emery is even non-phased by her absentee father’s motivational speeches he spans the globe to deliver. Simply put, Emery accepts the life she clearly has chosen and created.

    When the Jackson family is approached to be the subject of a new reality television show, Fifty Days to Freedom, the ink is barely dry on the paper when Emery realizes the ‘fifty days’ is a direct link to her and the ultimate success of the show.

    Ken Baker has addressed the dirty little secret reality to a serious problem: teenage obesity. He is visionary in how he set his pen to paper and created this often hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching and overall insightful dissertation of the inner workings of the teenaged girls’ mind. No girl (or anyone for that matter) wants a self image of being different that is directly related to her (over)size. Emery is obese and food is her comfort. Baker couples his story line with the real life smack down most of society gets with the insisted image and perfection (particularly young girls) are to adhere to. Given the premise of Mr. Baker’s book, which is for Emery to face her obesity head-on, he cleverly broke it down into four distinct parts with chapter headings of: I. Appetizer, II. Soup or Salad, III. Entrée, and IV. Dessert. As the story evolves, just like a great meal, the book becomes more appealing the further the reader ingests the text. He doesn’t use flowery language or site statistics. Rather, the story is peppered throughout with the inner thoughts of the mind, situations and raw feelings of a teenaged girl. He has demonstrated sound confidence of showcasing his writing ability through his story line of a solid voice that is truly supported by obvious research and knowledge of the topic. This is by far, a book every young girl/woman should read - ‘obese’ (or not). Well done Mr. Baker!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 24, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I'm not sure what's going on with my reading list lately, but I

    I'm not sure what's going on with my reading list lately, but I seem to be reading two or more books with the same subject manner in a row, totally unplanned. How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love was the third book dealing with a character with a weight issue that I read last week. Each of these books and their approach to the subject was very different. Ken Baker tackled it with more humor than the other authors did. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his take. 

    The thing that stands out most to be about this book was how authentic the voice of Emery was. As a lady who has always struggled with her weight, I felt myself relating to Emery. A lot. Had I not known before hand, I would have never guessed this book was written by a man. I don't know why it's so shocking to me that a man could accurately voice a teenage girl – and I should probably be ashamed of myself for thinking that way – but it's true. I was blown away. Emery wasn't always likable. She was witty, snarky and sarcastic, but she was also a little overly judgmental at times. (Who isn't?) One thing's for sure, she was a strong character. Hooray for strong female characters! Her blog entries were among some of my favorite parts of this book and it's there I think Baker really shined. I related with her and felt bad because I definitely understood the challenges she faced throughout this book. Her family was flawed and manipulated her, but it was still apparent that they cared about her, regardless of how deplorable their behavior was at times. 

    If it wasn't enough that Emery was dealing with weight issues, a family that was less-than-understanding at times AND the pressure of a reality show, the latter was about to cause more problems for her and her relationship with Ben. Despite the reference to falling in love in the title, romance isn't a big part of this book, but it was still well-written and real. Emery and Ben were a really good pair. They both had weight issues, and while I think they enabled each other at times, they also understood each other and ultimately pushed each other down a better path. 

    I used to watch pretty much every single reality show known to man, so that was another reason I was so excited to read this book. While it was fictional, it was still an interesting behind-the-scenes look at "reality" TV. Emery's show was about as realistic as WWE wrestling and I enjoyed guessing what the producers would come up with next. Oh, the manipulation – both of Emery and her loved ones and the public. 

    How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love was absolutely unputdownable for me. I read it in a mere matter of hours, and it only took me that long because I kept getting interrupted. It tackled the tough issue of obesity in a very realistic manner and with a character I think a lot of females will relate to. It had humor and heart – and enough twists and turns that it kept me guessing. I wasn't ever sure how things would end for Emery and, I have to say, I was genuinely surprised in the end. Emery's journey was one I appreciated very much. She definitely emerged a stronger person at the end. I wouldn't say no to a follow-up novel, but this book can stand on its own, too. 

    I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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