Skinny: A Novel

Skinny: A Novel

by Diana Spechler

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062020369
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 850,237
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Diana Spechler received her MFA from the University of Montana and was a Steinbeck Fellow at San José State University from 2004 to 2005. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, Moment, Lilith, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.

What People are Saying About This

Allison Winn Scotch

“Add me to what is sure to be a very long list of Diana Spechler fans. Skinny will be my go-to recommendation all year for anyone who wants smart, endearing, beautifully written women’s fiction.”

Laura Dave

“Diana Spechler writes like a dream. In Skinny, she masterfully explores the relationship between food and pain, between love and heartbreak. And what Spechler most magically captures is the elusive feeling of longing. And how, on its other side, we sometimes find what we needed all along.”

Customer Reviews

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Skinny 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
charlottesweb93 More than 1 year ago
Every woman young or old has a body image issue of some type. Big nose, big hips, fat thighs, or all of the above. It is a rare woman that does not have a body issue of some type. After Gray eats her grief, "fat camp" is really the place for her. She is not the most perfect heroine by any stretch of the imagination. She is deeply flawed in several ways, but it wasn't until camp that she started to realize that being flawed is okay. I think that is a critical message for all women, particularly teens. Overall I think Skinny was a good book. Another book for the beach bag, bikini or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down. I think I really related to the main character in the book as I've struggled with body issues my whole life however I think just about any woman could read this and relate. Your emotions will ride through out the course of the book from laughter to suspense to tears and you will enjoy the whole way through!
suetu on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Not a Huge success¿I have to wonder if I would have had a different/better impression of Diana Spechler¿s novel, Skinny, had I not just watched the short-lived but excellent television series Huge. Both stories are set at a weight loss camp for adolescents, and both had a central character that could be difficult to like. In Spechler¿s novel, that person is 27-year-old counselor, Gray Lachmann.Gray has sort of gone off the deep end. A year prior to the events of the novel she lost her father, and she feels culpable in his death. Ever since, she¿s been spiraling out of control, most notably with her eating. A lifetime of rigid self-control is out the window, and she¿s packed on 15 pounds. But that¿s not the reason she¿s abandoned her long-time boyfriend and her life in New York to spend the summer watching over a bunch of surly teens. No, it¿s one teen in particular that¿s drawn her down to North Carolina¿one that may have ties to her deceased father.Now, I think all of the above is a terrific premise¿especially in the heightened dramatic setting of a weight-loss camp. I believe my biggest problem with the novel was that so many of the characters were unlikeable. I started out very sympathetic to Gray. But she became more and more self-involved and her behavior became inexcusable. By the end, it was very hard to care for her. The other counselors and campers were largely unappealing, even when they broke your heart with dialogue like: ¿I¿ll be skinny. I¿ll be happy.¿ But no one was worse than the self-aggrandizing camp director who constantly sang his own praise:¿I do so much for everyone,¿ Lewis said. ¿It never ceases to amaze me, how willing people are to just screw you over when you¿re the nicest guy in the world. I told the girls, `Lewis Teller is the nicest guy in the world. But when you take advantage of Lewis Teller, you¿d better be prepared to pay the price.¿¿So, my big complaint was the unsympathetic characters. However, they were well-developed unpleasant characters, and overall, the writing of the novel was strong. Also, when Gray wasn¿t whining or freaking out or acting up for pages on end, Spechler took the novel¿s plot in some interesting directions, and I especially enjoyed the story¿s resolution. Overall, this was a mixed bag for me. While clearly it wasn¿t a Huge success, I don¿t regret having read Skinny. I¿ll be curious to see where Ms. Spechler goes next.
whitreidtan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
We hear again and again how obsessed we as a culture are with the cult of the skinny. The media bombards us with the message that only bone thin is acceptable. The diet industry is a multi-million dollar cash cow. Weight is a health issue, a social issue, and a personal issue. And it's a rare woman who has not faced at least some struggles with weight or body image.The main character of Spechler's Skinny, Gray Lachmann is not fat. At best, she's currently chunky. She's spent her whole life being thin but after her father's death, for which she feels culpable, she medicates herself through food, packing on the pounds. Instead of facing her grief, she eats and eats and eats until she is burstingly full. But she stays hungry. And when as the executor of her father's will, she learns of a trust set up for an unknown woman, she does some digging and discovers the existence of a teenaged girl who must be her half sister, the product of her father's affair. When she learns, via Eden's blog, that she will be spending the summer at a fat camp, Gray promptly applies for a job as a counselor, determined to meet and befriend her sister.But Gray carries her own food and emotional demons to camp with her and rather than mentoring the campers, she stays at a remove from them. She does try to advocate for the kids as she discovers more and more just what sort of charlatan is running the camp and how unqualified and shoddy everything connected to Camp Carolinas is but she is so immersed in her own dramas, guilt over her father's death, a growing estrangement from her long-term boyfriend, a developing flirtation with the camp's buff fitness director, and her own burgeoning anorexia, that she doesn't even see so many of the things going so terribly wrong at the camp. Worse yet, Eden, Gray's entire reasno for being at the camp in the first place, has no interest in befriending Gray, wanting desperately instead to fit in with the cool girls at camp.Written from Gray's perspective, the novel taps into the multi-faceted feelings that are so commonly associated with food issues: loathing, depression, anger, helplessness. Food is a panacea, the option that dulls the intensity of these negative emotions, at least as long as Gray is still chewing. When Gray stops eating and starts shedding the weight, she is high and powerful, superficially in control, and the storyline reflects that but it also still contains the seeds of destruction as Gray has acknowledged but not faced the root cause of her previous binging behaviour. The emotional portrayal in the novel is spot on. And while the reader might not like Gray or her decisions very much, it is clearly evident that we aren't the only ones. Gray herself doesn't like herself very much either. As Gray unravels, the plot takes some unexpected twists that make it all the better for their appearances. As often as Gray details the quirks and personalities of those around her, as characters, they stay backgrounded and a bit thin, as ironic as that sounds given that almost all of the characters are in actual fact fat. A quick read, one that kept my attention, I could relate easily to portions of the story, having fought a weight battle for much of my adult life. I don't know that it will have changed my relationship with the scale, but it certainly did give me pause, help me examine my own food demons a bit closer, and offer me an enjoyable afternoon of reading.
nbmars on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This fictional account of twenty-six-year-old Gray Lachmann¿s summer as a counselor at a ¿fat camp¿ provides a harrowing look at the torments of weight issues. Gray, while only fifteen pounds overweight, herself has an eating disorder, having struggled most of her life with obsessive eating, obsessive dieting, and/or obsessive exercising. She thinks a lot about the triggers, such as "stuffing food into the cracks in your heart¿ and confesses that people with eating disorders hate fat people because they are ¿the visible manifestation of the parts of ourselves we hide.¿Gray¿s use of food as anesthetic clearly came from her father, who dropped dead on Gray¿s twenty-sixth birthday. Since then, Gray, who feels she ¿caused¿ her father¿s death by upsetting him, has been eating non-stop. At Camp Carolina, however, she begins an affair with a gorgeous personal trainer, and her hunger goes away. But all the underlying issues are still there, as is her boyfriend Mikey back home. And when camp is over, she will still have to come to grips with what causes her to binge.Discussion: This book was inspired by the author¿s own long struggles with her weight. And wow, does she let all her defenses down as she describes openly what she has done and felt. I did feel she focused more on behaviors without delving as much into the emotions (e.g., shame, anger, hurt) setting those behaviors into motion, which might be helpful for those not intimately acquainted with the problem.Gray is likeable for her honesty, and sympathetic because of her pain, but ¿ as the two men in her life observe ¿ she is extremely self-absorbed. This could have been off-putting (and is to quite a few readers), but I saw it as a consequence (or cause?) of the disease. As an interesting by-product of her total obsession with herself, the men are portrayed only as they are reflected by or impacting on Gray. (Gray was the narrator; one might charge that the author painted the men one-dimensionally, but I think one could argue equally that this was done on purpose to show how narrow was Gray's focus toward the rest of the world outside of herself.)Evaluation: I liked the book, although it can make for some painful reading if you¿re able to see parts of yourself in the story. The ending seemed realistic to me too, even if it wasn¿t an ending I would have preferred. This book is definitely worth reading if you or someone you loved has ever struggled with eating issues.
squirrelsohno on LibraryThing 8 months ago
When I entered a contest and agreed to participate in an author discussion, I didn¿t know what I was getting myself into with SKINNY. I thought I would be getting a book about one woman¿s acceptance of herself. I rarely read into details about things and this has often led me down weird paths with books. SKINNY was kind of a discussion about acceptance and body image, but more so about grief, blame, and realizations about one¿s self and one¿s life. Gray is a 26 year old New Yorker who has lost her dad and blames herself, diving straight into an eating binge before finding out she might have a half sister. She signs up to be a camp counselor at a fat camp in North Carolina (yay NC) in order to lose her fifteen extra pounds and to meet this sister she never knew she had.The story is well paced and interesting, keeping me wrapped up in the storyline, especially the last 150 pages (read one morning when insomnia and a perky cat woke me up at 6 AM). For the most part, the characters intrigued me, especially Spider the allergic camper and Gray¿s boyfriend back home Mikey, an up-and-coming comedian. The one character I really disliked, though, was Gray herself. Her whining was constant and by the end I really found myself wanting her to shut up. She blamed herself for things she had no responsibility over, cheated on her boyfriend who loved her, and ignored her own issues that prevented her from getting better. She wasn¿t fat, she was just someone who needed to come to terms with herself. And a therapist wouldn¿t have hurt.I give this book props for the main male non-boyfriend love interest, Bennett. Not really because I found him too exciting, but because he was a Carolina Hurricanes fan. This really must be the first book I¿ve ever read with a Hurricanes shout out. I used to live in the NC mountains so I enjoyed the setting and understood that well. Overall, the strength of this story lies less in the characters but more in the story. Even if I disliked most of the characters (especially Gray and her co-counselor Sheena, who I thought was exceedingly stupid and vindictive for little reason), I enjoyed the pace of the story and the flow. It kept me hooked, maybe because I wanted to see if the characters changed for the better. The ending, though, left a little to be desired. Gray found peace and moved on, but it wasn¿t fulfilling like I had expected.Despite the characterization faults, Spechler¿s writing is engaging and fun. I was drawn in immediately, which was hard to do considering I started it at the beach with the ocean calling my name. I¿m definitely interested in reading more from this author, just as long as Gray is not involved.VERDICT: Besides annoying characters (including the MC), SKINNY is a fun, quick read for young women who have gone through grief and bouts of self esteem issues. NOTE: This book was provided for free by Harper Perennial in exchange for participation in an author discussion hosted by The Next Best Book Blog on Goodreads in August.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RidesWater More than 1 year ago
This felt contrived and shallow. Much of it was trite and felt formulaic. I am glad it was lent to me. I would not buy from this author.
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Slow getting into the " meat" of the story, but thought provoking. Leaves you thinkig+ always a sign of a good novel.
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dayzd89 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars Skinny is a beautiful, deeply layered and complex novel about many things. I could say it's about a woman's unhealthy relationship with food, or her voracious appetite to feel satisfied and secure through things such as food and sex. It's also about her relationship with her father who passed away, and the mourning that she still finds herself in. Yet those brief summaries wouldn't give the book justice. To me, Skinny is about a woman who yes, isn't perfect. But who in this world doesn't have problems? This is a valid question that is brought up by Gray. Even though both men and women are brainwashed by our shallow society to look our best at all times, women are bombarded with images of fellow women with no tummy, no double chins, as little body fat as possible. Most of the time these models don't even look like that; they are photoshopped. So we strive to look like an impossible ideal, an image that we will never attain no matter how much we run, how little we eat, how many desserts we miss out on. Some people are naturally skinny, and there's nothing wrong with that. So what's wrong with being chubby or fat? I can't say that I love Grey as a character completely because I won't lie, she pissed me off a lot throughout the book, especially when she distanced herself from Mikey, a guy who yes, has his faults, but I really think that he loved her. I just felt like grabbing her and asking her, just break up with him, why do you need to hurt him? But life isn't perfect like that. We're always going to hurt someone, whether intentional or not. Some other reviews have said that this novel is extremely cruel toward overweight people and even promotes cheating. I am not skinny myself yet the situations in this book are sadly true, and reflect real life. There are so many people who suffer from eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and genuinely hate their body. Our society promotes this type of negative self criticism. We can't pretend that it doesn't exist because the problem won't go away. So I applaud Diana Spechler for writing about such a taboo subject, and I think she did a fantastic job on it. And the cheating part? Well, no one ever cheats anymore, right? So we don't have to worry about that.
Sheens1 More than 1 year ago
Inspired me to lose some weight so I would definitely recommend it!
dbc-254 More than 1 year ago
It's the equivalent of a chick-flick/Lifetime Network movie. DEFINITELY written/focused from a feminine slant. Enjoyed the story and LOVED the plot twist regarding the main character's "relative" Well done! If I saw this title on Lifetime, I'd watch to make sure they did the book justice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good summer read
MJohnmay291958 More than 1 year ago
I really thought this book was too negative, the main character Gray, had lost her Dad and went to work at a camp for kids to lose weight, It moved really slow and didnt all come together until the last chapter, It was a book-club selection, and the only reason I finished it,was not enjoyable!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If ur on go to next result