Maggie O’Leary is overweight and not ashamed to admit it. As a top columnist for a New York paper, her column “Fat Chance” touches on the myths of being overweight, offers support and confidence to her loyal readers, and talks about the obstacles overweight people have to endure. While Maggie is large and loving her shape, eating what she pleases, and never working out, that all changes one day when Hollywood comes calling. Heartthrob actor Mike Taylor is preparing for his next movie role as a diet doctor, and is seeking Maggie to be his consultant. Maggie, not seeing how she could possibly fit in to the LA lifestyle of perfect and plastic, decides to go on a diet to look more the part. But she does it all in secret, not wanting people at her job or her readers to know she is trying to change herself, while still writing how great big girls are. Her consulting trip to Hollywood leads Maggie to a possible love interest, and further confuses what she wants out of life. Can she possibly continue on with her column, her life, when she doesn’t truly believe those old philosophies anymore?
Fat Chance by Deborah Blumenthal is a lighthearted tale, and readers will enjoy following the heroine on her weight loss journey. At times the story seemed to fast-paced, especially with the supporting characters and their stories. I also didn’t quite feel a connection to the main character and why she was putting herself on a diet. The first chapters of the book spoke on how proud she was on not being super skinny and how she loved helping readers, but at the drop of a hat she changes her ways. If you can get past all that, Fat Chance is a fun and fast read that will give readers a lot of facts on nutrition, which was a little added bonus among the chick lit storyline.
Q: You have works published with a variety of topics: beauty, health, fitness, travel, etc. Where do you gain all the knowledge to write on these subjects?
I always do lots of research, but to me it’s fun digging into fields that I’m personally interested in.
Q: Do you have one favorite subject that you write about?
My background is in nutrition, so healthy eating is of particular interest to me.
Q: I just finished reading Fat Chance. Where did the inspiration for Maggie’s character come from?
Maggie’s a character who’s close to my heart because she suffers from vanity issues, as I think all women do, whether or not they are overweight. To me the book is about the larger issue of self-acceptance, not just about what the scale reads.
Q: Did you study journalism in college? I wasn’t able to find what you majored in!
No, I majored in English.
Q: You don’t only write books for adults, you have published books for young adults and children. How do you find the ideas to write for so many different audiences?
When you’re a writer the ideas are everywhere. I try to read a lot of newspapers and magazines, and often the ideas come from the short, off-beat little items.
Q: How were you able to break into the writing industry?
Actually I married a journalist and I began to see the world the way he does and see news stories everywhere.
Q: I saw that you hold reading and writing workshops at schools and libraries. Why do you think this is important to do?
Writing is such a lonely profession that it’s fun and inspiring to get away from the computer and interact with real people. When I go to schools I learn so much from kids about what works and what doesn’t in terms of picture books.
Q: You are not only a journalist and published author, but a nutritionist. In your opinion, what do you think is one of the most important nutrition lessons we should be aware of?
I think of food as medicine and believe that we have a great deal of control over our own health. I also think we have to respect the body and give it the best possible food,.
Q: What would be your best advice for aspiring writers?
Keep reading, and closely examine your favorite books to find out how the authors tell the stories and create the characters. Also, force yourself to sit down every day and write.
Q: What would be your favorite place to vacation to?
Deborah Blumenthal is a journalist and nutritionist, and writes books for adults, young adults, and children. She also routinely writes for The New York Times and has written columns on topics such as health, fitness, beauty, and travel. Other feature stories of Blumenthal’s have been printed in newspapers and magazines, including: New York’s Daily News, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Self, and Vogue.
Deborah Blumenthal has four published works for adults: The New York Book of Beauty, Beauty: The Little Black Book for New York Glamour Girls, Fat Chance, and What Men Want. Blumenthal currently lives in New York City.
In My Mailbox: Week of March 14, 2010
Title: The Dirty Girls Social Club
Author: Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Received: Public Library
Synopsis: A vibrant and absorbing novel of six friends–each an unforgettable Latina in her late twenties–and the complications and triumphs in their lives As soon as it was written, The Dirty Girls Social Club began turning heads. The Chicago Tribune reported that the book “set off a bidding frenzy” among publishers. The Associated Press reported that “even people running the copy machines at major publishing houses just had to read The Dirty Girls Social Club.” It’s no wonder the media is all in a whirl. In this heartfelt and absorbing novel, Valdes-Rodriguez opens up the lives of six upwardly mobile Latina friends in their late 20’s. These women, who come from widely varied backgrounds, meet at Boston University and, after graduating, reunite every six months to share their stories. Facing the complications and pressures of everyday lives, the Social Club offers a chance to meet regularly, dish, dine, and help each other over the bumpy course of life and love. Filled with humor, drama, and the redemptive power of friendship, The Dirty Girls Social Club promises to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.
Title: Necklace of Kisses
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Received: Public Library
Synopsis: Where were the kisses? Weetzie Bat wondered. And so begins a magical journey of discovery. As she turns forty and the relationship with her secret-agent lover-man Max falls apart, Weetzie packs up her lime green and bright orange bikini, orange suede sneakers, and Pucci tunic, jumps in her ’65 mint green Thunderbird, and leaves. Weetzie finds herself at the enchanted pink hotel in sparkling Los Angeles, where she once shied away from a kiss that may have led her to the love of her life. Now she returns, perhaps in search of her lost passion, and meets an otherworldy cast of characters, among them a blue-skinned receptionist, an invisible cleaning lady, a seductive fawn, and a sushi-eating mermaid who gives her a kiss that sets the wheel of self-discovery in motion. Block invests every scene with equal shots of magic and realism, rendering her heroine and supporting players in vivid, poetic detail. In Necklace of Kisses the fans that have grown up with Weetzie Bat will be able to meet her in adulthood and find that life is still no less trying and no less full of wonder.
Title: Fat Chance
Author: Deborah Blumenthal
Received: Public Library
Synopsis: Maggie O’Leary, America’s Anti-Diet sweetheart, plays Dear Abby to the overweight in her newspaper column, “Fat Chance.” But all that changes when she receives a call from one of Hollywood’s sexiest actors, Mike Taylor, asking her to serve as a consultant on a film in which he’ll play a diet doctor in a weight-loss clinic. Maggie realizes this is a golden opportunity and goes on a clandestine weight-loss campaign to impress this heartthrob. Her culinary skills and newly svelte figure instantly win the affection of Mike. It seems as if Maggie has it all now. But she finds that she misses her good friend Tex and the life she had in New York. And while Maggie chooses between good ol’ boy Tex and Hollywood Mike, she must also come to terms with her weight loss and what it means for her perception of herself.
Title: The Bachelor and Spinster Ball
Author: Janet Gover
Received: From Janet Gover for review
Synopsis: Another gripping romance set against the fabulous backdrop of the Australian outback, from one of LBD’s fastest rising stars Sexy Nick, feisty Bec and dreamy Hailey all grew up together in the tiny, one-horse town of Farwell Creek. In fact, Nick and Bec were the town’s teen-dream couple, until Bec made a break for it and shook the small-town dust off her heels for the big-city lights. Now she’s back – but Nick doesn’t have romantic feelings for her any more … does he? Sweet, idealistic Hailey is caught between her old friends, but has too many problems of her own to be able to worry about theirs. Devastated at the loss of her parents, who died in a crash a year earlier, she’s too wrapped up in her own thoughts to even think about leaving town or finding love. It will take a devastating bush-fire, a black-tie ball under the stars, and a road-trip to help all three friends work out who and what they want – and what they need.