CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 39. . . .June 11, 2010
Blob. (Orca Currents).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2010.
98 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-181-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-182-1 (hc.).
Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Crystal Sutherland.
"Why are you being so obnoxious?" I say.
"I'm not being obnoxious. I'm being helpful. I'm calling a spade a spade, or in your case a blob a blob. Get used to it. I'm not the only one at school who's noticed you're obese."
Zoe turns around a prances off. She walks down the hall like a model on a runway.
It's Eve's first day of high school and, on top of attending a new school, she has gained a few pounds over the summer. No one could survive a summer working at a convenience store without gaining weight, could they? Anyone should be able to understand she had no control over her expanding waistline, especially her best friend Sarah, one of the few people Eve knows at her new school and the one person Eve believes will make the first day of school bearable.
Eve is about to find out that even the closest friendship may not survive the pressures of high school, and that appearances outweigh personality. Being avoided by your best friend is bad enough, but being dumped for the popular girl who is very easy to hate makes it worse. Zoe is tall, thin, and beautiful, the three traits all girls hope for in high school. If you can't be tall, thin, and beautiful, being associated with someone who is tall, thin, and beautiful is a close second. The pressure to be popular has motivated Sarah to dump funny but dumpy Eve and worship at the shrine of Zoe, hoping, as many teens do, to be perceived differently based on the company she keeps. Eve refuses to believe a few extra pounds could destroy a strong friendship. As Sarah increasingly refuses to acknowledge Eve's existence and refuses to stand up for her when Zoe becomes a bully, Eve faces the truth and resigns herself to the face she can't count Sarah as a friend anymore.
Not everyone is as concerned about appearances, however. Eve runs into two girls she knows from junior high and finds they're not put off by her weight gain. Eve has friends to hang out with at lunch hour who don't make fun of her attempt at dieting and even tell her she isn't really fat! They encourage her to forget about Sarah and join an after school group mentoring younger students who are having a difficult time. Eve wonders what kind of role model she would be considering she can't even control her chocolate addiction long enough to have only bananas and milk (which is totally gross!) on the fifth day of her diet.
Having decided to at least give being a mentor a chance, Eve's first meeting with her mentee, Stephanie, is a disaster. First Stephanie tell Eve she's too fat to be eating cookies, then runs out of the room only to return to get her backpack and again tell Eve she shouldn't be eating cookies. At first, Eve is ready to give up since even her mentee doesn't think she's capable of being a good role model, but, unlike dieting, Eve decides this isn't something she can give up on so easily. Eve learns what's really important, what makes a friend a friend, and when it's acceptable to give up and move on.
If you are, or were, popular, almost invisible, bullied, a bully, or didn't feel perfect enough as a teenager, you will be able to relate to problems and concerns of the characters in Frieda Wishinsky's Blob. With the story being told in the voice of the main character, Eve, readers experience her nerves, worries, disappointments, and victories, not to mention holding their breath when Eve confronts her bully, Zoe. Any teenage girls who have felt insecure or excluded will enjoy, and be inspired by, Eve no matter what they thinK of her weight.
Each chapter begins with a quote related to the material that will inspire readers to re-evaluate their beliefs and behaviour ("No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." - Eleanor Rosevelt), giggle ("The first thing you lose on a diet is your sense of humour." - Author Unknown), or a combination of both ("A true friend is someone who things you are a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked." - Bernard Meltzer). While Eve's self-confidence wanes and strengthens, readers will be cheering her on with fingers crossed, hoping she does the right thing. Luckily for Eve, and her readers, she is always able to overcome tough situations involving difficult junior high students, and she demonstrates impressive skills where putting impossible bullies in their place.
Eve loses and gains weight and friends throughout the novel while dealing with parents whose attempts at being helpful and supportive make them all the more annoying, coupled with a definite hatred of math and her arch enemy Zoe. Readers will devour Blob in the same way Eve devours chocolate bars: after a taste you won't be able to stop until it's finished. Blob should be required reading for tween and teenage girls, or anyone who has ever been a teenager.
Crystal Sutherland holds Masters degrees in Literacy Education and Library and Information Science. She lives in Halifax, NS.
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