HarperCollins recently published Gotham teacher Diana Spechler second novel, Skinny
It’s the story of Gray Lachmann, a young woman who becomes a counselor at a weight-loss camp. She has ulterior motives: To gain control of her own compulsive eating, which began after the recent death of her father, and she suspects one of the girls at the camp is her half-sister, the product of an extramarital affair on her father’s part.
It’s quite the interesting mix: guilt, secrets, romance, infighting, dieting, and an unforgettable summer at camp.
Here’s a one-page glimpse:
The night before the campers would arrive, fourteen hours before I would meet Eden Bellham, I decided—no . . . I was compelled—to have my final meal. The Last Supper. Once the idea occurred to me—no . . . gripped my throat like strong fingers—I mumbled something to a few people about picking up some things at Walmart. Then I got into the car that had once been my father’s, buckled the seat belt that still had an extender on it, and drove to Melrose, the nearest town, to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet called Chinese Buffet.
The Chinese part was questionable; the buffet included pizza, spaghetti marinara, cream puffs, California rolls, and flan. Not that the details mattered to me. Three nights before, I’d eaten four pints of ice cream, and afterward couldn’t have named the flavor.
I gazed through the sneeze guard at the lo mein glistening beneath the heat lamps, at the unidentified meat shimmering in hot pink sauce.
And I began.
I heaped my plate high with egg rolls and pasta, fried balls of something masquerading as chicken, rice peppered with tiny green and orange cubes that represented peas and carrots. I barely heard the booth sigh when I sat, barely noticed the sticky, synthetic sensation on the backs of my thighs.
Chopsticks are supposed to aid dieters, to lend themselves to smaller bites. I loved chopsticks for the wrong reasons—the pleasing pinching, the length unobstructed by tines. I pulled a pair from its red paper sheath. I cracked it apart. And then I shoveled, stuffed, and filled. I chewed with my mouth open, gulping for air. I felt myself come loose from my body and drift above the table to watch. Rice flecked the front of my T-shirt.
I went back for seconds.
I went back for thirds.
I had brought a magazine—the kind that lobotomizes. I looked at celebrities in expensive jeans. I learned that one was dating another, that one was either pregnant or fat, that one had bought groceries in West Los Angeles. I felt grease and sauce make my chin slick, sweat bead at my hairline, and the heat of Chinese food emanate from my armpits.
I approached the buffet for a round of desserts. And then another. And then went back for more lo mein, remembering the inimitable first mouthful—the steaming, salty relief.
I didn’t stop until sickness spread its wings in my gut and reared its beefy head in my throat. I rested my elbows on the table, my hot face in my palms. I spoke silently to myself.
Don’t think about how fat you feel. You’re no fatter than you were an hour ago. You’re just full. You will digest. What were you supposed to do, skip dinner? Don’t think about your stomach swelling in your shorts. Don’t think about the tops of your thighs;it’s natural that they touch. Don’t think about how bloated your cheeks will feel in the morning. This will never happen again. Tomorrow will be the beginning.
Reprinted by permission of Harper Perennial. For more information on Diana and her book, visit: dianaspechler.com