Harper Perennial, 9780062020369, 368pp.
Publication Date: April 26, 2011
"Spechler…transcends melodrama and clichewith striking sensitivity and delicate touch." —Boston Globe
To escape thegrief she feels following her father’s death, twenty-six year old Brooklynite Gray Lachmann becomesa counselor at a summer camp for overweight children, where she discovers shehas her own demons to battle both emotionally and physically. In Skinny, the ambitious, accomplished, anddarkly humorous second novel fromreader-favorite Diana Spechler—author of Who ByFire and acontributor to Rumpus Women Volume 1—a vividly realized cast of characters mustcome to terms with eating disorders, buried secrets, and the trials of growingup.
About the Author
Diana Spechler received her MFA from the University of Montana and was a Steinbeck Fellow at San José State University from 2004 to 2005. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, Moment, Lilith, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.
Praise For Skinny: A Novel…
— Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The One That I Want and Time of My Life
“Spechler’s meditation on the nature of hunger is both touching and surprising, as Skinny boldly explores the connection between our emotional and physical appetites. Her characters and their stories stayed with me long after I put her book down.”
— Janelle Brown, bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and This Is Where We Live
“Diana Spechler writes like a dream. In Skinny, she masterfully explores the relationship between food and pain, between love and heartbreak. And what Spechler most magically captures is the elusive feeling of longing. And how, on its other side, we sometimes find what we needed all along.”
— Laura Dave, author of The Divorce Party and London Is The Best City in America
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Skinny explores the relationship between food and emotions. What is the connection between hunger and longing? Why do you think Gray immediately turned to food after her father's death?
- Childhood obesity, a hot-button issue in American politics, is rapidly becoming a global concern. What are some pros and cons of weight-loss camps for kids? Who is responsible for a child's health?
- To what degree, if any, is Gray responsible for her father's death?
- Gray tries to replace her father with Mikey, and Mikey with Bennett. What is the allure and what is the danger of "replacing" important people in our lives?
- While reading Skinny, did you ever feel like telling Gray (or other characters) to stop behaving the way she was (or they were) behaving? What advice would you have liked to give?
- Lewis, although his heart is arguably in the right place, consistently uses poor judgment. How could he have better handled some of the problems that arose at Camp Carolina?
- Skinny deals as much with male eating disorders (Gray's father's, for example), as with female eating disorders. What pressures do men face when it comes to their bodies? Are body-image issues worse for one gender?
- Gray makes a few observations of her mother's eating habits. How do you think those habits influenced Gray? Generally, how do you think parents' relationships with food affect their children?
- Gray has a tough time emotionally connecting with her campers. Why do you think this is? How did the camp cliques keep some of the teens from making progress?
- Throughout the novel, Gray writes highly emotional letters to "Fat People." What do her letters say about her relationship with her own body? What do you make of "fat discrimination"? Does it ever happen in reverse (overweight people discriminating against thin people)?