Review and Author Interview: Skinny by Diana Spechler

Skinny: A Novel (P.S.)

Skinny by Diana Spechler

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: April 2011
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Format: Paperback , 368pp
  • Sales Rank: 222,623


After her father’s death, twenty-six-year-old Gray Lachmann finds herself compulsively eating. Desperate to stop bingeing, she abandons her life in New York City for a job at a southern weight-loss camp. There, caught among the warring egos of her devious co-counselor, Sheena; the self-aggrandizing camp director, Lewis; his attractive assistant, Bennett; and a throng of combative teenage campers, she is confronted by a captivating mystery: her teenage half-sister, Eden, whom Gray never knew existed. Now, while unraveling her father’s lies, Gray must tackle her own self-deceptions and take control of her body and her life.
Visceral, poignant, and often wickedly funny, Skinny illuminates a young woman’s struggle to make sense of the link between hunger and emotion, and to make peace with her demons, her body, and herself.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book.  I picked it up and to be completely honest did not want to put it down. I could completely relate the Gray – eating issues seems to be running crazy in our society and I for one have been affected.  This book take a very bold stand and the connections between food and pain both emotional and physical.  It is a very hard topic to write well and Diana Spechler  does an outstanding job of putting into words what some many women and teens face day in and day out.  I really enjoyed that the way that this was done was not necessarily through traditional relationships but partly through Grey giving up her entire life in New York City to be a counselor at a “fat camp” after she thinks that she finds out her father had another daughter after he dies suddenly.  She leaves behind a boyfriend but quickly falls for another guy at camp.  She also had some trouble with a wicked girl at camp.  It never ceases to amaze me how twisted a character can be in a book and bring me right back to times in my history that I would rather forget.  I loved the different characters in this book.  They all had their own challenges.  It made the book very well rounded.  The end was a bit abrupt for me, mostly due to the fact that I wanted more.  I wanted to see where things were going to go.  

My Rating

For sure this book rates 5 stars for me.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has faced food challenges or emotional eating.

And now I have a special treat for everyone.  I was very excited with Diana agreed to do an interview!  Let’s see what she has to say:

Where did the ideas of Skinny come from?
Everyone I know, present company not excluded, struggles with body image issues and/or with food. We all think we’re too fat or too thin, too flat-chested or too hairy or too hook-nosed. We eat too much or we eat the wrong things or we don’t eat enough or we beat ourselves up over what we eat. The energy we expend fixing, hiding, and hating our “flaws” fascinates and depresses me. At the risk of sounding simplistic, we’re doing it for love; we think people will love us more if we’re perfect, and love us less if we’re imperfect. The insular world of weight-loss camp struck me as a good place to explore body image in all its societal, psychological, and political glory.
Describe for us Skinny in just 3 words.
Loss. Hunger. Love.
Which character was the hardest for you to write?
My protagonist’s boyfriend, Mikey, is a stand-up comic. He was tough to write because I worried that I wasn’t making him funny enough. It’s not easy to write a character who’s funnier than you.
Which character was the easiest to write?
My protagonist, Gray, came to me the most naturally because she’s more like me than any of the other characters in the book. With that said, to varying degrees, I’m part of every character I’ve ever written.
Was there anything edited out that you really wanted in the book?
No. My editor, Jeanette Perez, is a dream editor. She’s not heavy-handed. She never says, “Change this! Cut this!” Instead, she’ll say, “This part isn’t working. What do you think?” And ten times out of ten, I’ll agree with her. Then, together, we’ll discuss ways to fix the problem. She gives me a lot of creative freedom, but she also consistently makes my work so much better.
Is there anything you want to say to the young girls out there struggling with these issues?
Talk about it. Tell your mom, your best friend, your therapist. Don’t hide. Don’t feel ashamed. You’re not alone.
Also: Enjoy this brief period of life when you can come home from school, stick a frozen pizza in the microwave, polish it off, go out for ice cream with your friends every day, and not gain an ounce. All of us on the other side of twenty-two are jealous.
Did you always know you would be an author?
Yes. It was the only thing I ever wanted. When I was seven years old, I wrote a twenty-four-page story with a pencil and had my mother type it for me. My elementary school literary journal published it: Shana and The Magic Quilt. Because the title is abstract, I’ll tell you what it was about: a girl named Shana with a magic quilt.
What is more challenging for you, writing or editing?
The initial writing process is a struggle because inevitably, my self-doubt creeps in: “This sucks! You suck!” (My self-doubt has a limited vocabulary.) Sometimes my self-doubt doesn’t so much creep as barge in, knocking me over the head with a baseball bat. Then I can’t write at all. So I try to get through a first draft as quickly as possible. Once I have a first draft, I can breathe, and then start moving the blocks around, playing with the sentences, teasing the themes out, and bringing the characters more fully to life. That’s the fun part.
Tell us how you got published.
Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: My first novel, WHO BY FIRE, started as a short story I wrote when I was a twenty-three-year-old graduate student. When I finished school, I started developing the story into a novel. A couple of years later, one of my best friends, the unfairly talented author and all-around fabulous human being, Cristina Henriquez, read a draft and told me that she thought her agent, Kate Lee, would like it. She was correct, and within a year, Kate began approaching the publishing houses with my manuscript. Sounds brilliant so far, right?
Except that that the thing didn’t sell. I got rejection letter after rejection letter. Many editors were kind. Some even gave useful feedback. One was alarmingly angry, as if by just writing the book, I had inflicted undue harm on her. I cried and drank vodka and contemplated the futility of life. Then I got back to work.
After a year of revising, my magical agent sold WHO BY FIRE to Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins. I was twenty-eight years old. When I got the call, I was at a kickboxing class at my gym, fighting an imaginary villain. I ran outside the gym and cried tears of shock and joy and jumped up and down in my sports bra. I’ll never forget what Kate said: “Stop crying. I have to read you the offer letter.”
What do you need to write?  Specific foods or drinks?
Tea. Water. Gotta stay hydrated.
And some fun quick questions
Dog or Cat?
I love big dogs with trashy reputations. I had a Rottweiler when I was a teenager. Now my parents have a pit bull.
Coke or Pepsi?
I stay away from that stuff these days, but I used to be semi-addicted to Diet Coke.
Almond Joy or Mounds?
Almond Joy. I love nuts. Does that sound slutty?
Laptop or desktop?
I work on a laptop, but I dream of one day having an ergonomically responsible desktop computer with a gorgeous, eye-soothing, flat-screen monitor. And a massage therapist to stand behind me, working on my knots and occasionally telling me that I don’t suck at all, that my work is pure genius, that I should really stop working so hard and enjoy a few Oreos.
Summer or Winter?
Summer! I love flip-flops.
Music or TV?
I haven’t owned a television with channels since childhood. What have I missed?
Black or White?
I wear a lot of black, not because I’m morbid or even particularly fond of black; I just don’t trust my fashion sense enough to branch out.