- Prizes and Awards: Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award Shortlist 2004
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Grade 9 Up–In her first year of med school, 22-year-old Giselle Vasco seems to have it all together. But a lifetime of bitter relations with her deceased father is slowly catching up, and she falls into a downward spiral that her mother and her younger sister, Holly, are powerless to stop. Skinny, though, is much more than a study of one young woman's battle with anorexia. What starts as Giselle's story quickly develops into a rich and powerful tapestry of a whole family. When Thomas and Vesla Vasco emigrated from Hungary in the 1970s to escape communism's rigid caste system, Vesla was already pregnant, and Thomas had always questioned whether the baby was his. His doubts color his whole relationship with his older daughter, and when Holly is born eight years later, the divide becomes more apparent. Holly, a natural athlete, struggles to understand and avert her sister's self-loathing. The chapters alternate between the sisters' voices, and the ability to see the events unfolding through their eyes adds a depth and a poignancy that would not have been possible with a single narrator. Kaslik's first novel hits the mark with characters with whom teens will empathize, and tackles a relevant and painful subject with grace.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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"I was born between the old world and the new, five months after my parents came to this country." At 22, Gigi still feels caught between worlds. After hospital treatment for anorexia, she leaves medical school and moves in with her Hungarian mother and eighth-grade sister, Holly. The sisters' distinct voices narrate alternating chapters in this moody, experimental debut. It's refreshing that Gigi's anorexia and briefly described lesbian romance are treated as only parts of a larger story, and the girls' grief following their father's death and the pressures they face growing up with immigrant parents add depth to the novel. Unfortunately, Kaslik's exploration of issues spins in too many directions to make a cohesive whole. In addition, passages that read almost like spoken-word poetry and spliced-in narratives from unidentified voices are lyrical, but they are occasionally more distracting than effective. Still, this is an ambitious, often moving offering, and older readers will likely connect with the raw emotions and intelligent insights into a family's secrets, pain, and enduring love. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.