So this book caught my eye while I was browsing through the Best Buy believe it or not, and by the time I shuffled in to B&N during my Saturday afternoon errands and outing, affectionately named shopping, I’d decided to change my usual genre preference and give it a shot. After all, we’d had this discussion before about all the heroes and heroines we read about being buff and trim with unimaginable, ok, its fiction, so obviously it IS imaginable, lifestyles and how’d I’d like to see the everyday Joe Schmo or Plain Jane take center stage for once. Well, with this book…I got my wish and it was fantastic! This book has all the great elements every good book SHOULD have: humor, romance, drama, life-altering experiences, and heart-breaking familiar disappointment. The story is about a plus-sized girl whose life becomes a shambles of misery and self- doubt after an ex-boyfriend, the one she amazingly hasn’t entirely cut the strings too yet, publishes an article in a nationally acclaimed magazine about her called “Loving a Larger Woman.” This article basically exposes her deepest, darkest insecurities for the whole world to see and at one point in the larger, bolder print, even proclaims how it must take courage to love a plus-sized woman in this society. Interestingly, though he talks about how hard it is to cope with her insecurities, he fails to mention his OWN insecurities and/or faults in the relationship. Are you smelling revenge yet? Me too. That’s why I picked the book up. What I found between the pages however, was WAY more than just sweet revenge. Cannie, the crack-wit heroine of the story, navigates her way through a strange menagerie of friends and relations, who also seem unnervingly familiar, which includes a nosy mother who decided at 56 she was a lesbian, a lawyer best friend, a food critic fellow employee, a compassionate weight loss physician whose exact age is a toss up, a movie star, and a dog named after a rather tender part of the male anatomy. No, not that one, but close. We also come along for the ride while she encounters, copes with, agonizes over, and ultimately comes to terms with some past demons as well as her present ones. The hard part for me, albeit also one of the most enriching aspects of the story, was just exactly how many of these demons hit close to home. One poignant reoccurring theme throughout the book involved Cannie comparing her life to a lab experiment. The experiment entails one series of rats who didn’t get any reward for pressing a bar, another set of rats who received rewards every time they pressed a bar, and a third set who only occasionally got treats for pressing the bar. Interestingly, it was the third set who kept up the practice of pressing the bar for treats when the other two sets got bored of the exercise. She uses this anecdote to illustrate the power of false hope stringing a person along. I found myself at one point getting upset at the main character for letting this obvious loser keep stringing her along, but then I had to sit back and ask myself. How many times have I let someone I cared about string me along past what was reasonable or even ludicrous because of the time and energy I’d invested into them, even when my logical brain knew it was over? Needless to say, I have no room to throw stones. The plot line covered over a year in time, but never once did I feel like the pacing dragged. I caught a couple of typos here and there, but no where NEAR some of the pathetic editing I’ve seen of late in some of the other books I’ve critiqued, so it could just be me. I only felt one or two of the characters seemed non-dimensional. Most of them were very complex and easy to relate to in some form or another. I caught a couple morals for this story; one that might help out the guys and one for us ladies, especially those of us who struggle everyday with self-esteem issues. For the guys, the kindest way to break up with someone is really just to make a clean break. Don’t try to continue a friendship or continue letting it be known publically that you still think about this person, like in a national magazine, because you’re not sparing their feelings. You’re just dragging out the hurt by perpetuating the false hope women are too often vulnerable to. Ladies, make it a practice to consciously acknowledge the good things in your life, so when the hard times come, and they will..more than once, you have something to fight it with and you aren’t so easily defeated, victimized, or thrown down into the gaping, wretched hole of despair. I thoroughly enjoyed the book as an enriching personal “experience”. If ya’ll know anything about my rating system, I’ll tell you I devoured the whole thing in about day and a half as opposed to the ones I can put down after a chapter or two, or worse, the ones I stop reading midway through the book. I think its biggest gift to offer its reader is not the amazing sixty pounds thinner and life becomes wonderful plot, the prince charming happily ever after once you boot the frog back into the pond, or even the attributes of a very satisfying scheme for getting even, though I did enjoy it when it came along FINALLY. In the end, it offers hope. It gives women like me the encouragement to say, “HEY! I’m 31 years old. I’m still single. I’m a size 18 and I’m a single mom with a wonderful 7-year-old son. I have a good job helping cancer patients. I have family and friends who love me. And to borrow a phrase from Loreal, I’m worth it.” Cheers and good reading, folks!