cover image Skinny


Diana Spechler, Harper Perennial, $14.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-202036-9

Instead of relating to her charges at a teenage weight-loss camp, 20-something Gray Lachmann studies them through the same empathy-free eyes with which she views herself in Spechler's shallow second novel (after Who by Fire). Feeling culpable in her father's death, Gray leaves New York and takes a job at Camp Carolina for the summer, hoping to lose the pounds she gained bingeing in her guilt and grief, and to also meet Eden, the girl she believes to be her stepsister, discovered via a mysterious bequest while executing her father's will. But Eden, a born loner who Gray assumes resulted from an extramarital fling, rejects Gray's efforts to open up. Gray's summer job does prove life altering, and not just physically: she distrusts the camp owner, begins to draw herself into the knotty social lives of her charges, and flirts with the athletic director. Affectingly narrated by Gray in a tone that often echoes pro-anorexia message boards, Spechler's latest succeeds in lovingly detailing the agony of self-loathing before it swings wildly into YA territory to teach Gray a lesson about life. (Apr.)