I have to tell you, our narrator Judi almost lost me right at the beginning of the book when she complained about summer, saying, There wasn’t anything to do except sweat and eat ice cream. Not because she's overweight with horrible eating habits, but because – here it is – Gasp! – Horrors! – I don’t like ice cream.
However, she lured me back in soon after with a night of Oreos that I can relate to oh-so-well; she explained how, at 51 calories each, 2 cookies was permissible, but when she slid down the slippery slope to 10 – 510 calories! – it was catastrophic. Like Judi, I knew perfectly well in the 8th grade that if I had the small bag of Doritos and a can of diet Mountain Dew for lunch, I could cruise through the whole afternoon on a boastful 250 calories and stay awake through history class.
In fact, I actually challenge you to find a teenage girl who’s not a mathematical genius when it comes to calorie counting. The experts say, Calories in, Calories out – it’s simple math. Well, it’s a simple statement alright, but dieting’s effect on the female psyche is infinitely complex. If you were to trade spelling bees for competitions on teen magazine diet and fashion advice, you’d have more contenders than American Idol.
Judi has one particularly poignant diary entry: I mean, who cares if two trains are rushing toward each other at a hundred miles per hour from Point A to Point B, so what time will they meet in Chicago? Here’s the only word problem that I care about: If a certain 13-year-old girl…weighs only 129 pounds and she goes on a diet and eats only 800 calories a day, how many days will it take her to weigh 115?
I won’t tell you how our tortured (and not uniquely so) young narrator’s story ends, but I will say that it’s one that will be retold over and over – in fiction and reality – until we fix our priorities; food should rule only our stomachs, not our minds.