A Book Review
I first heard of this book on Nina Badzin’s blog. I was intrigued by the voice of its author, Diana Spechler, who was being interviewed, and I enjoyed her replies and banter. So I was delighted when she asked me if I’d like to have a copy for review.
Skinny, by Diana Spechler
Gray believes her behavior toward her obese father had a hand in causing his death. Their relationship was strained by her father’s refusal to accept her live-in boyfriend, Mikey, a comedian who the lawyerly father felt was not good enough for his daughter. Mikey is also not Jewish. And Gray’s father had become obsessed with religion, and a particular Rabbi’s counsel. Perhaps to thumb her nose at her father, or perhaps because she just likes the job, and is good at it, Gray becomes her boyfriend’s booker for his comedy act. Something she works hard and excels at. It leads her into the seedy night world of New York comedy clubs. Then her father dies, and the guilt sets in. She begins eating.
As long as the binge lasted I rarely answered my phone. I blew through deadlines. I attended no parties. I was busy. I was sick. I was consumed and consuming and unfit for public consumption. The things that normally moved me—were muted by the deafening call of ice cream and stuffed wontons and Cracker Jacks. The world would have to wait, or else trample me like a panicked crowd.
Gray gains weight. (The scenes of binge eating are disturbingly graphic, sensory and nauseating.) She pushes Mikey away.
As executor of her father’s estate Gray finds out about a secret life her father had: one involving another woman, and another daughter. Like any daughter would, she looks this other girl up online; peers into this other’s world, and tries to deduce what she can about her dead father’s relationship with her. Did her father love this other girl, cryptically named Eden, more than herself?
In an attempt to find out more and get to know her half sister, Gray gets a job as camp counselor at the bogus ‘fat camp’ for teens where Eden is enrolled. Gray packs everything she owns into the old car she inherited from her father and leaves New York, and Mikey, behind.
I won’t tell you the rest, since I don’t like reviews that give away the plot. But I will tell you the camp Diana creates is chock full of colorful characters who will draw you into their fears, and dreams. And, in a satisfying and touching twist of plot, Eden turns out to be something both more, and less, than Gray expects.
Diana Spechler’s prose is often surprising and fun, with literary flavors and savory bits sprinkled lavishly throughout. Her characters are fleshy and fully rounded.
All in all Skinny was a delicious read, and I recommend it.