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Monday, January 3, 2011

Teenage Waistland

Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman and Lisa Pazer

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

Teenage Waistland follows 4 teenagers as they go through the process of a clinical weight lost trial. After a surgery that will allow them to eat a small serving of solid food or liquids, Marcie Mandlebaum, Bobby Konopka, and Annie “East” Itou are left to deal with the in-and-outs of their newfound lifestyle.
  • Marcie: Age 16, 5’4”, 288 lbs
  • Bobby: Age 16, 6’2”, 335 lbs
  • Annie, “East”: 15, 5’6” 278 lbs
I can do math, I swear. I mentioned 4 teenagers and listed only 3 because Char, the 4th teenager that stars a role in Teenage Waistland, is not the main character. She is a supporting character, albeit one that plays a very important part in the intricacy of the novel, who does not have her own perspective. Her every word and action is told through the sections of Marcie, Bobby, and East. Char is a supporting character who, funnily enough, supports everyone else. She is the energetic cheerleader behind the Teenage Waistland group with an infectious attitude. However she is not all hips and boobs with a hazy past.
  • Char: Age 15 (guessing), 5”8”, 290 lbs
I liked Char then I did not like Char. Her choices in life and the “hazy past” made me uncomfortable and befuddled. The apology scene was a drama scene that left me uninspired and still in doubt. Sadly the receiver of the apology ate it, which only further sped the ending into a big happy smile. My biggest gripe was how the real apology, the one that explained why Char did what she did, came from a person that sort of put words into Char’s mouth. That person tried to soften the fight, but in doing so took away most of the heat I wanted between the two people that Char’s action left the most impact on.

Teenage Waistland offers the viewpoints of three completely different social roles. Marcie is the stepdaughter to a very, very rich man. All the women in her mother’s side of the family have served the typical female role in the household: passive, pretty, and skinny. Her best friend has already had the same surgery that Marcie will soon undergo. In Mexico. With Marcie, the authors were able to present not only the social pressure of school but family pressure of being the prefect woman: one that ensnares men into their trap. The techno-savvy girl had the opposite effect on me than Char’s. I came to like Marcie on her own terms. However, I did find her relationship to her family members underdeveloped and her best friend terribly so. Her best friend especially was emotionally distraught mostly because of her weight.

Bobby was the male. Huzzah! A guy! And get this readers, he’s not freaking perfect. No chiseled abs, no laser-piercing eyes, no butt chins! Bobby is unfortunately a football player. Or you can considered as fortunately having the distinct pleasure of being egged on by fellow team members, having a dad who was also a football player, who still has his big-V. Bobby’s a jerk. Liked him, didn’t like him, redeemed himself. Couldn’t quite wrap my head around his character. I feel like I could only trust him about as far as I could throw him (and between you and me I can’t even lift him up).

East is my Asian Fusion: half Japanese and half Polish. With East there was so much the authors could have with her. The entire novel could have solely focused on how her life really sucks. Like a vacuum cleaner sucking power. Her father never introduced her to her Japanese side so she cannot speak her father’s language, he committed suicide when she was 12, brother got sent away to boarding school, mother became depressed, Annie turns into East and begins emotionally eating. For the time being I think of her as the rough diamond and the ticking time bomb.

Teenage Waistland has a title that explains it all. Funny at times, but serious all the same: Teenage Wasteland.

Side notes:
This book made me want to eat some food.
I love the pun in the title.
I think the formatting at the top of each chapter charting each character's weight was great.
The romance was lackluster so I didn't want to mention it.
Would recommend this as part of a New Year's resolution to loose weight.

Cover B-/C+
a part of me thinks it's quite a playful cover that doesn't stray from the novel
the other part wants to see plus-sized women or plus-sized guy on the cover
Source: Delacorte Press
Published: 9 November 2010; hardcover


  1. This one sounds really interesting - despite the negatives you've mentioned (it sounds like they'll bug me as well!) I think I'll check it out. I do agree it'd be nice to see a plus-sized guy or gal on the cover. Thanks for the great review :) x

  2. I like the title also! It sounds like a decent read...Thanks for the review.