FAT, STUPID, UGLY: One Woman's Courage to Survive

Debrah Constance, Author, J. I. Kleinberg, As Told by, Penny Marshall, Foreword by , as told to J.I. Kleinberg, foreword by Penny Marshall. Health Communications $12.95 (218p) ISBN 978-0-7573-0225-1

The most compelling part of this book relates how Constance, who was named California's Woman of the Year in 1994, founded A Place Called Home— a youth center in South-Central Los Angeles that has become a refuge for inner-city gang members and gives them a chance to turn their lives around. APCH delivers many needed services, largely thanks to the author's hard work and commitment. Those who come through the doors can sign up for art, dance and music classes, homework help, sports and access to computers. But the bulk of this memoir is devoted to the author's struggle to deal with her father's sexual abuse; her mother's characterization of her as a fat, unattractive baby; three failed marriages; other troubled relationships; alcoholism, agoraphobia, smoking, a bout with cancer; and a traffic accident that nearly killed her. The author became sober through AA, forged a successful reunion with her alienated son and is currently in a loving relationship with a female partner. Although Constance has clearly overcome horrendous problems to get where she is today and should be applauded for her work with troubled teens, the detailed, artless and somewhat simplistic account of each obstacle is more numbing than inspiring. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 07/12/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
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