Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head

Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head

3.4 10
by Jen Larsen
     
 

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Jen Larsen always thought that if she could only lose some weight, she would be unstoppable. She was convinced that once she found a way to not be fat any more, she would have the perfect existence she’d always dreamed of. When diet after diet failed, she decided to try bariatric surgery, and it worked better than she ever could have dreamed: she lost 180

Overview

Jen Larsen always thought that if she could only lose some weight, she would be unstoppable. She was convinced that once she found a way to not be fat any more, she would have the perfect existence she’d always dreamed of. When diet after diet failed, she decided to try bariatric surgery, and it worked better than she ever could have dreamed: she lost 180 pounds. As the weight fell away, though, Larsen realized that getting skinny was not the magical cure she thought it would be—and suddenly, she wasn’t sure who she was anymore.

Stranger Here is the brutally honest, surprisingly hilarious story of one woman’s journey from one extreme of the weight spectrum to the other, and of the unexpected emotional chaos it created. Insightful and unsparing in her self-examination, Larsen depicts the exhilarating highs and devastating lows she experienced as a result of her weight loss—the incredible joy of finally beginning to look like the image of herself she’s always carried inside her head, and the crushing pain and confusion of feeling like a stranger in her own body after losing the weight that has always defined her.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Honest, brave and sparklingly funny, Larsen’s memoir reminds us that one size doesn’t—and shouldn’t—fit all.”
People Magazine

"For all the noise our culture makes about fat and thin and health and perfect bodies, Jen Larsen's voice rises above the clamor, disarming and funny but unflinching, too. Combining stark honesty with generosity of spirit, this story of loss and recovery is like no other."
Wendy McClure, columnist for BUST Magazine and author of The Wilder Life

"An arresting memoir about the author's experience with weight–loss surgery.

Larsen initially lied to her mother about the nature of her surgery and didn’t tell her the truth until well after the procedure. She admits that her librarian co–workers 'probably knew more than I did' about the risks and potential complications, and she spread the first payment across three credit cards. When a doctor reprimanded her for gaining, rather than losing, weight before the surgery date, Larsen asked, 'If I don't lose the weight, can you still operate?' She smoked and drank heavily. After her painful recovery, she 'ate whatever I could fit inside me, and suffered for it, and lost weight anyway.' In the hands of a lesser writer, all of these facts could lead readers to feel judgment or disgust. Instead, Larsen's honesty and insight make for a searing account of precisely what it feels like to be fat and to have complicated relationships with food, family and friends. We understand exactly why one would look to surgery as a solution to not only excess weight, but also fear, loneliness and unhappiness. Larsen eventually lost the weight, and she also moved on from her dead–end job and her bad relationship. But though her life is measurably better, she still reels from the shock that self–acceptance did not come automatically: 'You lose weight without having to develop self–awareness, self–control, a sense of self. In fact, you go ahead and you lose your sense of self.'

Raw vulnerability and rigorous emotional honesty make this weight–loss memoir compelling and memorable." —Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
Freelance writer and blogger Larsen chronicles her journey of discovery on the difficult road of weight-loss surgery (WLS). Open, honest, and willing to share her thoughts and feelings, Larsen highlights important truths about what extreme weight loss does and does not offer individuals. She addresses a major problem: the belief that weight loss will make problems and loneliness disappear, that life will instantly transform into an idealized version of itself. She shines a light on the aspect of the weight-loss experience that few talk about: the confusion people feel as they experience changes to their bodies, the loss of identity, physical restrictions caused by the surgery, and the eating habits, cravings, and temptations that still exist after WLS. VERDICT This book will resonate with readers who have undergone WLS and is essential for those considering it. Recommended.—Crystal Renfro, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta
Kirkus Reviews
An arresting memoir about the author's experience with weight-loss surgery. Larsen initially lied to her mother about the nature of her surgery and didn't tell her the truth until well after the procedure. She admits that her librarian co-workers "probably knew more than I did" about the risks and potential complications, and she spread the first payment across three credit cards. When a doctor reprimanded her for gaining, rather than losing, weight before the surgery date, Larsen asked, "If I don't lose the weight, can you still operate?" She smoked and drank heavily. After her painful recovery, she "ate whatever I could fit inside me, and suffered for it, and lost weight anyway." In the hands of a lesser writer, all of these facts could lead readers to feel judgment or disgust. Instead, Larsen's honesty and insight make for a searing account of precisely what it feels like to be fat and to have complicated relationships with food, family and friends. We understand exactly why one would look to surgery as a solution to not only excess weight, but also fear, loneliness and unhappiness. Larsen eventually lost the weight, and she also moved on from her dead-end job and her bad relationship. But though her life is measurably better, she still reels from the shock that self-acceptance did not come automatically: "You lose weight without having to develop self-awareness, self-control, a sense of self. In fact, you go ahead and you lose your sense of self." Raw vulnerability and rigorous emotional honesty make this weight-loss memoir compelling and memorable.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580054461
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/19/2013
Pages:
280
Sales rank:
1,340,111
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"For all the noise our culture makes about fat and thin and health and perfect bodies, Jen Larsen's voice rises above the clamor, disarming and funny but unflinching, too. Combining stark honesty with generosity of spirit, this story of loss and recovery is like no other."
Wendy McClure, columnist for BUST Magazine and author of The Wilder Life

"An arresting memoir about the author's experience with weight–loss surgery.

Larsen initially lied to her mother about the nature of her surgery and didn’t tell her the truth until well after the procedure. She admits that her librarian co–workers 'probably knew more than I did' about the risks and potential complications, and she spread the first payment across three credit cards. When a doctor reprimanded her for gaining, rather than losing, weight before the surgery date, Larsen asked, 'If I don't lose the weight, can you still operate?' She smoked and drank heavily. After her painful recovery, she 'ate whatever I could fit inside me, and suffered for it, and lost weight anyway.' In the hands of a lesser writer, all of these facts could lead readers to feel judgment or disgust. Instead, Larsen's honesty and insight make for a searing account of precisely what it feels like to be fat and to have complicated relationships with food, family and friends. We understand exactly why one would look to surgery as a solution to not only excess weight, but also fear, loneliness and unhappiness. Larsen eventually lost the weight, and she also moved on from her dead–end job and her bad relationship. But though her life is measurably better, she still reels from the shock that self–acceptance did not come automatically: 'You lose weight without having to develop self–awareness, self–control, a sense of self. In fact, you go ahead and you lose your sense of self.'

Raw vulnerability and rigorous emotional honesty make this weight–loss memoir compelling and memorable." —Kirkus Reviews

Meet the Author

Jen Larsen is a writer and editor living in Ogden, UT. In 2006, she underwent weight loss surgery and lost almost 200 pounds. Six years later she's still trying to figure out what that means in terms of health and body acceptance, but feels lucky to have experienced the full spectrum of weight and size issues on either end of the scale.

For two years Larsen was the featured blogger at Condé Nast's Elastic Waist. Her columns have also been syndicated on Yahoo!'s Shine Network for Women. She is a contributor to Big Fat Deal, a blog about weight in media and popular culture, and her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, and Emprise Review, and South Loop Review, among other publications. She is obsessed with tattoos as a way to transform your body, and has an MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco.

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Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't hate this book, but I felt like at every step she took she regreted everything she did. I bought this book because I just had gastric bypass surgery and I was hoping I would be able to relate to her. I felt the exact opposite. I told everyone I could, I created a support system, I know this isn't a cure all but it was a positive experience for me. I also didn't agree with her not telling her mother. Its your mother, get over yourself. You're not rejecting her your just making a better version of the both of you. I know this is about her personal journey. But its not a ride I want to take again.
PennameFan More than 1 year ago
Some parts were funny, but some were a lot less so.  I agree with most reviewers when they say that I wanted someone I could relate to, and while the book is, overall, quite honest, it just isn't an overall positive, life-affirming book that will help you deal with the feelings one will have after a life-altering thing like bariatric surgery.  And it seemed like she had no support, even after the surgery.  Overall, rather disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know who was responsible for the "surprisingly  hilarious" comment on the back of the book, but so far, I'm not finding this book at all funny.  The author strikes me as the type of gal who will never be happy and who will always find something to complain about. I don't think I will even finish reading the book, she's that much of a downer. I understand how depressing, debilitating, and frustrating it is to be fat, but Ms. Larsen didn't even TRY to lose the weight on her own!  She gave up, ate herself into a size 30, and then wanted a quick fix.  She should be ashamed of herself. If you're looking for an uplifting but realistic read about weight-loss surgery, or just wanting to find a "surprisingly hilarious" book about a topic you've never read about before, buy another book.  This one will only disappoint you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are considering weight loss surgery this book is not for you. If you have had weightloss surgery and sucessfully reduced and maintain this book is not for you. The majority of the book talks about how the author did not thoroughly investigate and educate herself on the weight loss surgery, resulting in her utter unhappiness. This could have been avoided had she gone to a center of excellence and actually paid attention to what was taught; many of the pit falls she experienced could have been avoided. Speaking from experience, if you are having this surgery, you need to continue with therapy to you can accept and love your new self!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've considered weight loss surgery but never felt like I got the full, honest story. With this memoir, you'll not only hear a warts and all account, you'll enjoy writing which flows easily and compellingly.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this one down. I am grateful to Jen for giving us a window into her life that was seemingly uncensored and truthful.  Her voice is refreshingly candid.  I appreciate her view on the weight loss surgery and process for getting approved.  You can tell by the language she uses that they are sucking her in, but she doesn't start pointing fingers.  She states, in a voice that is very much enlightened by hindsight, "I probably should have noticed this or asked about that."  Her ability to remain a neutral storyteller gives her credibility, and lets the reader form their own judgements.  While the book doesn't wrap up with a bow on top with regards to the end of her journey, it does show in closing how much she had grown as a person.  I like to think reading her story helped me grow a little bit too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book so far but I am a lot pissed off about how Jen is so judgemental about people's height......read it back FATTY.... like we have a choice! What do u expect us to do ......cut off our legs? I would think that there would be a little more understanding considering.....are tall people lower on the totem pole than fat people?