Friday, March 29, 2013

"They have fat umpires, don't they?"

I was always skinny as a kid. Not just thin, but downright skinny. I didn't even reach 100 lbs until I was a teenager. Even into my 20s I could eat as much of whatever I wanted and not put on a pound. Of course, as many of you probably know, that changes - the part about not adding any weight, I mean. No, changing your eating habits takes longer, and by then extra pounds have usually accumulated. And the older you get, the harder it gets to take it off. So, in some ways I could kind of relate to Losing It by Erin Fry.

Thirteen-year old Bennett Robinson is a big Dodgers fan - in more ways than one. He and his dad watch the games together on their sagging sofa while eating burgers and fries, and both have very serious weight problems. But things change when Bennett's dad suffers a stroke. His mom died of cancer when he was 5 and until his dad gets out of rehab (IF he gets out) he's going to have to live with his pushy Aunt Laura and her family. But Bennett doesn't want to end up like his dad, and a notice on the bulletin board at school about the cross country team catches his eye.

I considered getting this book (which I received from Amazon Vine) for weeks. It sounded interesting and I'm always on the lookout for books for my kids. But it turned out be a surprisingly fun read, and since it's told from Bennett's perspective it makes him very easy to sympathize with. And as if running a mile (or even walking up the stairs!) isn't hard enough for a "fat boy," he's also got to deal with the knowledge that there are serious limits to his father's insurance coverage. Plus, he's uncomfortable having to live at Aunt Laura's house, especially since she's not very supportive of his unhealthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, his best friend, PG, isn't very supportive either when he says he's thinking of joining the cross country team. Oh yeah - there's also Luis, the little punk who's picking on him at school, and Bennett doesn't know how to stand up to a bully. But it's not all bad - there's a really cute girl who seems to actually like him. And it all adds up to an easy-to-read and inspiring story about not giving up - for kids of all sizes. And in some ways it even reminded me of Gary Schmidt's outstanding The Wednesday Wars, although maybe not quite as cleverly-written.

As for me, I'm giving it another try. Losing it, I mean.

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