recommendations and reviews for the aspiring reader

recommendations and reviews for the aspiring reader

Recommendation: Size 12 Is Not Fat

Size 12 Is Not Fat

by Meg Cabot

“Less Than Zero looks relieved. “Good,” she says. “Well, I guess I better go and find a store that actually carries my size.” “Yeah,” I say, wanting to suggest Gap Kids, but restraining myself. Because it isn’t her fault she’s tiny. Any more than it is my fault that I am the size of the average American woman. It isn’t until I’m standing at the register that I check my voice mail to see what my boss, Rachel,  wanted. I hear her voice, always so carefully controlled, saying in tones of barely repressed hysteria, “Heather, I’m calling you to let you know that there has been a death in the building. When you get this message, please contact me as soon as possible.” I leave the size 8 jeans on the counter and use up another fifteen minutes of my recommended daily exercise by running – yes running – from the store, and toward Fischer Hall. “

I usually place novels into one of two categories – Healthy and Junk-Food.

Heavy Books take some time. You have to be prepared to read a Heavy Book, meaning; you can’t sit down and read snippets while your kids are fighting in the background, or while waiting to hear your number being called at the DMV. You need to be able to pay attention while you’re reading a Heavy Book or else you’re going to miss an important plot twist or a pertinent detail about a certain character. Heavy Books can take at least a week to get through, typically longer.

Junk-Food Books take no time at all. You can pick it up, read a few paragraphs, and then put it back down when you have to chase your toddler down and pull the dog food out of his pudgy fist before he eats it. You can go a few days in between reading sessions and still pick it right back up and not have forgotten or missed a thing, because none of it was really that important. You read these at the pool, throw it in your handbag as an emergency book, and you can get through it very quickly, sometimes in a matter of days.

I usually bounce back and forth between these two types of books. Of course, there are some books that fall into the “in between” category, but most books are usually closer to one end of the spectrum than the other. I usually can’t read Heavy Book after Heavy Book because there are too many books I want to read and I have limited time. I typically have a Heavy Book going at the same time as a Junk-Food Book. The Heavy Book gets read when it’s quiet, before bedtime in my house, and the Junk Food Book lays on the living room ottoman so I can pick it up here and there.

Meg Cabot is an author that you probably know more about than you think. Have you ever seen or heard of The Princess Diaries? It was a very popular movie in the early 2000’s (you know, after the 1900’s, the decade in which I was born and graduated high school in.) Urban New Yorker, devastatingly nerdy and utterly charming Anne Hathaway learns she’s actually a princess of a tiny country and goes to visit, meeting her grandmother who turns out to be a combination of Mary Poppins (literally) and Anna Wintour. She gets a makeover, finds love, reconnects with her family, and lives happily ever after with lots of comedic relief in between.

Meg Cabot wrote The Princess Diaries novel, along with about 15 other Young Adult novels featuring the Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldi/Mia Thermopolis and her adventures in princess’ing. She’s known for her serial writing, and she’s written several series of books for all age groups. I’ve read The Boy Series, which, while they don’t all have the same characters, is really fun. They are written using forms like email, IM, travel arrangements, journal entries, and paragraphs of regular text in between. One is even written loosely as the story of how Meg and her husband ran off together and got married. Super easy reads that you can get through during a few afternoons sitting in the endless carpool lane at your kid’s school.

Size 12 Is Not Fat is part of the Heather Wells Mystery Series, and I picked it up a few months ago at my local Half Price Books for $1. Yep, $1. You would not believe how many books I have purchased for under $5. I’ll have a blog post about that soon. Anyway, I put this book on my bathtub ledge and picked it up every night for about a week, giggling my way through relaxing bubble baths at the end of each day.

Heather Wells is a reformed teen pop star, but not really by choice. After approaching her record label about writing her own songs, the music executives and keepers of the kingdom laughed in her face and told her to take a hike. Her mother ran off with all her money, she caught her boyfriend with another woman, and she took a job as an assistant residence hall director for a New York college (mostly due to the free tuition she’ll be able to claim after her probationary period) where she’s severely undervalued – and where people are constantly asking her if “she’s that girl…” After vacating her throne as a pop princess, Heather has admittedly gained a few pounds but she’s perfectly fine with it because she is in fact at size twelve, the size of the average American woman.

“”Why are you applying for a job in a residence hall?” I’d cleared my throat. I wish VH1 would do a Behind the Music on me. Because then I wouldn’t have to. Explain to people, I mean. But it’s not like I’m Behind the Music material. I was never famous enough for that. I was never a Britney or a Christina. I was barely even an Avril. I was just a teenager with a healthy set of lungs on her, who was in the right place at the right time. “

The story hits the ground running as Heather is phoned by her boss to come straight into work because there has been a death on campus. A girl has slipped while jumping across elevator shafts, a game known as “elevator surfing,” and has plummeted to her death.  Here begins the mystery, and the first death leads to more, with Heather teaming up with her roommate and potential love interest, Cooper (who happens to be her ex’s brother.)  Whenever reading a mystery novel, I always try to figure it out before I finish the book. Size 12 Is Not Fat gives you about 75 possible suspects within the first three chapters, and I honestly didn’t figure it out until the end! I found myself thinking just the way Heather did when it came to suspects, and as she proved her theories wrong, I was surprised. I really enjoyed that about this book.

In addition to the mystery surrounding the dead female co-eds, we are introduced to the sweet crush Heather has on her roommate, Cooper. He’s placed her firmly in the “friend zone” and while she accepts the fact that she could probably never be his type, it doesn’t stop her from having (hilarious) fantasies about him. When she inevitably gets herself into more than a few sticky situations while trying to solve the murders, he is there to be her rock and sounding board, bailing her out of danger and steering her in the right direction.

“I can’t help staring at him as he puts down his beer bottle and stands up. Cooper really is a choice specimen. In the fading sunlight, he looks particularly tanned. But it isn’t, I know, a tan from a can, like his brother’s. Coop’s tan is from sitting for hours behind some bushes with a telephoto lens pointed at a motel room doorway… Not that Cooper has ever told me what, exactly, he does all day. “You’re working?” I ask, squinting up at him. “On a Saturday night? Doing what?” He chuckles. It’s like a little game between us. I try to trick him into letting slip what kind of case he’s working on, and he refuses to take the bait. Cooper takes his clients’ rights to privacy seriously. Also, he thinks his cases are way too kinky for his kid brother’s ex-girlfriend to think about. To Cooper I think I’ll always be a fifteen-year-old in a halter top and a ponytail, proclaiming from a mall stage that I’m suffering from a sugar rush.”

The book is essentially, a fun and fast-paced Junk-Food Book full of laughter, a little romance, a ton of nostalgia for any woman over the age of 30, with a main character who is likable and someone you would want to hang out with in real life. Each chapter is prefaced by a snippet that features lyrics from one of Heather’s songs when she was a pop-star. There were so many times I laughed out loud reading these because while yes, the songs were ridiculous, it took me back to being in high school the year Britney Spears made her debut and how similar Heather’s songs are to hers. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the two singers, but I’ll let you read it yourself to find them all.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy read, consider giving Size 12 Is Not Fat a try, especially if you like a fun and light series and if you don’t have a lot of time to read. I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for anyone over the age of 15, as there is (a small amount of) sexual innuendo and subject matter.



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