Starstruckby Cyn Balog
Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California… See more details below
Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.
At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.
But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?
From the Hardcover edition.
It takes dark magic to make attractive people love fat girls.
Gwendolyn ("Dough") is fat —and lest readers think she might have other characteristics, Gwen speaks of nothing else. Her "cheeks look like two fat red balloons" or "two giant pimples on the verge of popping." For four years, Gwen's been carrying on an e-mail relationship with her childhood best friend, Wish, who moved to California at 12. Now Wish—whose Facebook photos all depict a tanned surfer god— is returning home, horrifying Gwen. Yet inexplicably, the boy who's been her BFF since first grade still likes her, despite being rich, popular and attractive! There must be something creepy afoot, and indeed there is. Through defeating the devastating magic that would destroy her home, Gwen learns to love her body (more or less), but not before regaling readers with overwhelming self-loathing: "I cringe as I force away the mental image of him ... Touching the folds of flesh that weren't there all those years ago." Final messages about inner beauty are drowned in waves of fat hate and eating-as-disorder.
Skip this one, and try Charles Butler's The Fetch of Mardy Watt (2004) instead, a far superior fantasy about a self-loathing fat heroine and her male best friend. Readers who are looking for high-school pettiness should go for Nico Medina's Fat Hoochie Prom Queen (2008). (Paranormal romance. 12-16)
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
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- Random House
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 2 MB
- Age Range:
- 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
For the first time in four years, I've lost my appetite.
I mean, how can I think of eating when I can't even breathe?
"Look at her," my little sister, Evie, sings. "She's lost in love."
Evie has obviously been listening to my mother's eighties tapes too much. Love is the last thing on my mind. The first thing is sheer terror. Second is hopelessness. Third is a desire to run away, far away, into the night, screaming like a banshee.
I stare at the screen of my computer. My hands shake on the keyboard. I can just make out a bit of my reflection: my cheeks look like two fat red balloons, glistening in the sunlight slashing through my bedroom window. Evie and my mom hover above me, peering over my shoulders at another daily email from Wish. Normally I'd never let them within a five-mile radius of one of our top secret lovefests, but the five-alarm wail that escaped from my mouth must have made them think I'd just read that the island of Cellar Bay was sinking into the ocean.
At this point, that would be happy news.
MOM got a condo in Cellarton! Guess she couldn't STAND to be on the same island as MY DAD, ha ha! It's right by the bridge to Cellar Bay, though.
"Why didn't you tell us Wish is coming back here?" my mom asks, kneading my shoulder like I'm one of her famous breads.
If I had known, she would have, too. It would have been obvious. I would have sworn off white cream donuts and Tae-Boed myself into a stupor. Squirreled away some of my earnings from the bakery to buy a hot new wardrobe, and invested the rest in that miracle acne cure celebrities are always peddling on infomercials. Now there's no time. I'd need a year to get back to my twelve-year-old self. And a fairy godmother. Instead, my long-distance boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman III, will be on a collision course with planet Gwendolyn, all 234 pounds of her, in, oh, t minus seventy-six hours.
My mom studies the email. "Does it say why he's coming back?"
I shrug, numb. Because he wants to prove to me that just when you think your life is at its absolute suckiest, it can always get worse?
"We'll have him over for dinner," she says, completely oblivious to my meltdown.
"Ma, you want to welcome him, not kill him," Evie points out.
Though my mom knows everything about baking, that's where her knowledge of food ends. My mom's fanciest dinners are really prepared by Mrs. Paul or the Gorton's fisherman. But her culinary skills, or lack thereof, are the least of my concerns. I read the last line again:
I can't wait to see you IN PERSON finally and KISS my BEAUTIFUL GIRLFRIEND. It's been like a DREAM for me for SO LONG!!!
Wish has a knack for unnecessarily capitalizing everything and overusing exclamation points, like a ten-year-old girl, which is something I never realized until we started emailing back and forth each day. At first, I didn't mind it, but now it annoys me. Of course, maybe I wouldn't be annoyed if I wasn't so sure his enthusiasm was going to totally deflate within seconds of seeing me. He doesn't know I'm not worthy of three exclamation points. I'm probably not even worthy of a measly comma. The only recent pictures I've sent him were from the neck up, or so fuzzed out that I looked like the Blob in drag. But none of this is my fault. It's his fault for deciding to let his mother take him across the country to L.A. to live with his wacko grandmother when his parents split up. It's his fault for leaving me so heartbroken and alone that the first thing I did after watching his mother's BMW pull away was sit in the back room of the bakery and eat an entire tray of cannoli. His fault for sending me a daily email for the past four years, making me salivate so much for a kiss from him that all I could do to tell my mouth to behave was fill it with jelly donuts. His fault.
"He can't come back here," I say, digging my fingernails into the skin of my fleshy thighs, which somehow seem even bigger than they did when I woke up this morning. "Our relationship is perfect the way it is."
Evie snorts. "You're so weird, Dough."
I bury my face in my hands. That's another thing. I have no social life. No friends. Nothing normal, non-weird people have. Nothing, except him.
And twenty bucks says soon I won't even have that.
First let me explain something about the kissing, or lack thereof. Wish and I have been best friends ever since first grade, when we fought over Curious George at Cellar Bay Elementary School, this little brick building on Main where we were two of a handful of students. But a love for that cheeky monkey wasn't the only thing we had in common, we realized. Soon we were the complete-each-other's-sentences kind of friends. We were always together, like peanut butter and jelly.
We stayed best friends until right before junior high, when he moved away. That was when his parents split up and his mom took him to live with her mother, Grandma Bertha, this real nutcase of a woman who always used to talk about auras and astrology and that kind of crap. The one time she visited Jersey, she told me that my aura was black and dead and that I was invading her peace, which was just fine with me, because she was obviously insane. I felt bad that a normal guy like Wish had to live with such a creepy old lady.
So anyway, our relationship didn't develop into a boyfriend-girlfriend thing until he'd been in California for a while. After we'd emailed back and forth for two months, he asked me out. In real life, Wish is a total wuss when it comes to his feelings, like most guys, but he turned out to be a lot more confident in email. I could tell he was lonely at his new swanky private school in L.A., because he kept saying how much he missed me and how he would never find another girl like me.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
CYN BALOG has been a California girl and a Maine girl, but she's first and foremost a Jersey girl. No matter where she's lived, she's been writing. She is the author of Fairy Tale, Sleepless, Starstruck, Touched, and Dead River, and lives in Pennsylvania with her family.
From the Hardcover edition.
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