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Skinny Paperback – Apr 22 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Canada (April 22 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006392288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006392286
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #237,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From School Library Journal

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

"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.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Giselle is an intelligent, over-achieving medical student who is self-destructive and tormented by her relationship with her dead father. Holly is a blossoming young track star that struggles academically for several reasons, including the fact that she is hearing impaired. Giselle has been hospitalized and forced to return home to recover from anorexia. SKINNY tells the story of the effects of Giselle's illness on these two sisters now that Giselle has come back to the family home. The sisters take turns narrating the story.

Each chapter told from Giselle's perspective is laced with medical textbook excerpts that hold keys to the story. Holly's chapters are often brief and yet very poignant. The book details both sisters learning their family history and struggling with its effect on their current lives. The dialogue between the sisters is very well written, as are their inner monologues.

This book has many subplots and some come together in the end and others are not tied up so neatly. At times it feels as though Kaslik has attempted to write two completely different books about the same characters and weaved them together and yet, overall, the story is incredibly moving and emotional. Each sister's words force the reader to empathize with them despite the fact that they often seem to be battling against each other.

Overall, Kaslik has written a remarkable book about the devastating effects of eating disorders on both the person suffering from the illness and those around them. This book is incredibly weighty and touches on some incredibly intense issues at times, and would likely pose a challenge to even some of the strongest high school readers. But their efforts would not be wasted, as it is an incredibly satisfying read.
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By A Customer on Aug. 2 2005
Format: Paperback
What a heartbreaking work of extraordinary talent. This book will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you scream all at the same time. The author does a great job at allowing the reader into both Giselle and Holly's minds, helping to understand the state both characters are in. A great read!
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By A Customer on Aug. 20 2005
Format: Paperback
really good book. dark & intense but so good. makes you think.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ladybug on March 26 2009
Format: Paperback
This novel was not what I was expecting. It was somewhat interesting in places, but overall, not great.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 45 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Pretty solid up until the end Nov. 7 2006
By L. Boswell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Skinny is the story of two sisters; Giselle, a college-aged med student who has anorexia, and her 8th grade sister, Holly. The chapters alternate narrators to the effect that you get a feeling for how Giselle's anorexia influences both her and those around her.

Giselle's chapters, interspersed with snippets from her med school textbooks, feature a person torn by her own desire for perfection and permanently wounded by a father who openly showed preference for her younger sister. The snippets from the medical textbook act almost as subheads for the pages that follow, and sometimes I found them to be too "artsy." Like something a grad student in a creative writing class would do to make her story seem "different" even if it doesn't really do anything to provide insight. I get the meaning they're often supposed to have, but that's kind of the point. Either the meaning was too obvious, and therefore cheap and unnecessary, or the snippets didn't really seem to have much of a purpose at all. I also failed to see the purpose in her new boyfriend who runs in and out of the book--the one who is so enamored by Giselle's anorexic face that he ignores a broken wrist to go get coffee with her. I feel like the author wanted me to like him, but I was repelled by his tendency for addiction and his dependence on someone who clearly doesn't have enough stamina to even stand on her own. I just kept picturing them, ten years down the road, living out of dirty motel rooms and trying to scrape together enough money for some meth, or something. Yeck.

Holly's chapters almost perfectly capture the inner struggles and angst of being a young teenager. Of course, Holly has a little more on her plate than most kids, her sister has an eating disorder, her father is dead and she is half-deaf. Regardless, the relationship she maintains with her sister is touching in its intimacy and realistic in its acidity.

Sometimes the father's preference for Holly seemed a bit extreme. Like he'd basically hurl Giselle in front of a bus because she was standing in front of Holly when he wanted to hug her. I guessed fairly early on why he was drawn to the younger sibling, but that still wouldn't account for a human being completely and brutally shutting out a child.

All-in-all I'd say this was a very well-written and engaging read. The only part I'm confused about is the ending. See, I read all the pages in the book, but I still didn't get to it. I don't need everything to tie up neatly, like Giselle gains 80 lbs and gets married and gets her doctorate and Holly becomes Student of the Year, but I just wished for a little more epiphany and a little less dreariness.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Courtesy of Teens Read Too Nov. 2 2006
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Giselle is an intelligent, over-achieving medical student who is self-destructive and tormented by her relationship with her dead father. Holly is a blossoming young track star that struggles academically for several reasons, including the fact that she is hearing impaired. Giselle has been hospitalized and forced to return home to recover from anorexia. SKINNY tells the story of the effects of Giselle's illness on these two sisters now that Giselle has come back to the family home. The sisters take turns narrating the story.

Each chapter told from Giselle's perspective is laced with medical textbook excerpts that hold keys to the story. Holly's chapters are often brief and yet very poignant. The book details both sisters learning their family history and struggling with its effect on their current lives. The dialogue between the sisters is very well written, as are their inner monologues.

This book has many subplots and some come together in the end and others are not tied up so neatly. At times it feels as though Kaslik has attempted to write two completely different books about the same characters and weaved them together and yet, overall, the story is incredibly moving and emotional. Each sister's words force the reader to empathize with them despite the fact that they often seem to be battling against each other.

Overall, Kaslik has written a remarkable book about the devastating effects of eating disorders on both the person suffering from the illness and those around them. This book is incredibly weighty and touches on some incredibly intense issues at times, and would likely pose a challenge to even some of the strongest high school readers. But their efforts would not be wasted, as it is an incredibly satisfying read. It is accessible on several levels, so if a younger reader were to read this book they would likely take something from it as well, but revisiting the book later would likely reveal a more complex set of issues and themes.

Reviewed by: Allison M. Rotonda
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
heartbreaking, sad, quiet, cold May 2 2012
By Ellie H. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is sad in a quiet, sort of cold way. The end is absolutely heartbreaking, and the journey to get there is in many ways even worse. The excerpts from medical texts complements the emotional side of the eating disorder with chilling medical accounts of various other things that can go wrong. The relationships in the novel and the way they are expressed through the physical behaviors of the characters (Giselle's eating disorder, Holly's running, etc) are palpable and on-point.
Most important: this book is very, very triggering. I read this during the depths of my eating disorder, so it didn't really provoke much in me that was worse than where I already was. However, if you're attempting to recover from ED or are triggered easily, maybe stay away from this for a while. However, it's worth noting that this is the first book I've read that has been able to cover an eating disorder in-depth without seeming like a how-to guide. There was no process-based description of any behavior, no intake, no measurements, no numbers. This is a much-needed approach to such a misunderstood disease; anyone who thinks an eating disorder is about numbers, sizes or anything else so superficial should be required to read this. In fact, anyone who misunderstands eating disorders in any way, or thinks they understand them (you really, really cannot understand an eating disorder until you've had one) should read this book. The snippets of "dialogue" where Giselle's eating disorder is speaking to her, taunting her, could literally have been ripped from my head. Even the comments and insults levied by the eating disorder that seem tangential (e.g. Giselle's eating disordered voice yelling at her that she is an "exhibitionist" and a "slut") are relevant and sadly, completely accurate to the eating disorder experience. Giselle notes that nothing compares to "the abuse that *she* could levy" and truly, nothing does.
If you care about someone with an eating disorder, read this book. This is a more accurate picture of what she (or he) is going through than any psychological publishing or article you could read, and you'll find yourself much more invested in the fate of Giselle--and the Giselle in your own life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not so much April 24 2012
By RJ307 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Skinny is a provocative tale of two sisters, Giselle and Holly, as they battle Giselle's eating disorder. Through their journey, several subplots emerge--the mother's love triangle, a baby-daddy drama, sister-lover triangle, and an "I see dead people" moment ... web after web after web. The book is poetically written but somehow, this only serves to distract the reader from acknowledging that you learn nothing. The "end" of each plot/subplot is alluded to but in the end, there are no real answers. Some will say "this just shows how life like the book is" but come on people, in life there are some answers. I don't like books too neatly tied up but NOT tying up any of the loose ends is authorial laziness (or a desperate attempt to do a sequel).

In terms of characters, Giselle is compulsive and self-destructive; she is selfish, cold, unfeeling, and unemotional. Even when she thinks she loves, the reader will not believe her. Her affectional identity is fluid (which I greatly appreciate).

Mother is weak--a side note in the whole tale which doesn't leave much room for wondering what caused her daughters to be such a mess.

Holly is perceived as being the "ideal" child--pretty, athletic, great muscle tone. Ironically, Holly embodies much of teenage angst--not being busty enough, not having full hearing capabilities, being "gender variant" (i.e. preferring pajamas to dresses and sports to fellas).

Sol is an unmotivated, alcoholic, and borderline pedophile.

On whole, I couldn't stand a single character in this book. They only cared for themselves, their own needs and desires, and even though the intent of the book is nobel--show how eating disorders affect families--there is not one shred of redemptive "family" demonstrated in this book aside from "memories" when the dad was alive. When I finish a book wishing all the characters could die--or had never been written--it's not a good thing.

To be fair, I did greatly appreciate the mention of fluid affectional relationships and transgendered people--even if they were, as always, a silent "oh, by the way." I also enjoyed the dramatic back and forth between sisters and the connection of the text to medical language. The prose is this book's strong point but the story line--not so much. If you are looking for any redemption--any--even if it is just one character, SKIP this book. And if grammatical errors drive you crazy DO NOT read this on Kindle (where almost have of the I's were 1's ... the least of the errors).

I am going to give it a 2 instead of a 1 because I think this edgy author has promise.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Beautiful Book March 30 2009
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have just finished this book. I am a teen and thought it can teach girls alot about eating disorders. While many people make fun of eating disorders and act like they are no big deal, this book shows that they are. It gives you an intense background of how Giselle became an anorexic. it also lets you understand how it affects her mother and younger sister Holly. This book was more of a challenge for me. But with my trusty Webster's dictionary I got through the book and I am happy I did. This book was beautiful. I suggest only a higher skill of readers to try this book, they should also be mature and open minded.

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