cover image Life in the Fat Lane

Life in the Fat Lane

Cherie Bennett / Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Reader

Lara Ardeche seems to have everything--the perfect boyfriend, a roomful of beauty pageant trophies, a talent for the piano and terrific looks--and as her saga begins, she is crowned homecoming queen of her Nashville high school. Upon this paragon, Bennett (Did You Hear About Amber?) visits a made-up disease, which makes Lara balloon past 200 pounds, no matter how little she eats and how much she exercises. Her popularity turns to ashes and she becomes alienated from herself, ""a prisoner in a fat suit""--and her troubles have only begun. Bennett drops in transcripts from TV talk shows and news reports to demonstrate just how ingrained is the prejudice against fat people in American culture, and she obviously wants to challenge popular notions of weight, self-image and beauty. Reading this often artificial novel for insight into these issues is a little like eating peanut M&Ms for the protein, but it's a similarly addictive experience. While Bennett contrives both the obstacles facing Lara and the means by which Lara surmounts them, the author is on target with her estimation of how greatly readers will share Lara's horror at her plight; if she does not revolutionize anyone's thinking about weight, she is sure to hit a nerve. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)