While pregnant with twins, one sentence uttered by her doctor sends Stephanie Klein reeling: “You need to gain fifty pounds.” Instantly, an adolescence filled with insecurity, disappointment, and embarrassment comes flooding back. Though she is determined to gain the weight for the health of her babies—even if it means she’ll “weigh more than a Honda” —she can only express what deep fear this causes by telling her doctor simply, “I used to be fat.”
Stephanie was a seventh-grader with a weight problem. It was a problem at school, where the boys called her “Moose” and her only friends were the nerds and misfits, and it was a problem at home, where her father reminded her, “No one likes fat girls.” After several unsuccessful attempts at dieting and many frustrating sessions with a nutritionist known as the Fat Doctor of Roslyn Heights, Long Island, Stephanie’s parents enrolled her for a summer at fat camp. Determined to return to school thin and popular, without her “lard arms” and “puckered ham,” Stephanie embarked on a memorable journey that would shape more than just her body. It would shape her life.
In the ever-shifting terrain between fat and thin, adulthood and childhood, cellulite and starvation, Stephanie shares the cutting details of what it truly feels like to be an overweight child, from the stinging taunts of classmates, to the off-color remarks of her own father, to her thin mother’s compulsive dissatisfaction with her own body. Calling upon her childhood diary entries to jog her memory, Klein opens up and uncovers her deepest thoughts and feelings from that turbulent, hopeful time, baring her soul and making her heartache palpable.
Whether Klein is describing her life as a chubby adolescent camper—getting weighed on a meat scale, petting past curfew, and “chunky dunking” in the lake—or what it’s like now as a fit mother, having one-sided conversations with her newborn twins about the therapy they’ll one day need, this hilarious yet grippingly vulnerable book will remind you what it was like to feel like an outsider, to desperately seek the right outfit, the right slang, the best comeback, or whatever that unattainable something was that would finally make you fit in.
A candid memoir of the author’s struggle with her weight. When Klein (Straight Up and Dirty: A Memoir, 2006), a self-professed rotund adolescent turned nicely shaped adult, was told by her pre-term labor specialist that she must gain 50 pounds before giving birth, the author understandably balked. “If I gained 50 pounds, I’d weigh more than a Honda,” she notes, “and certainly more than my husband, which was worse.” Her doctor’s edict transported her back to childhood, which was filled with taunts, unrequited crushes and unhealthy processed food. Klein recalls when she hit “156 pounds and change” despite numerous trips to a local nutritionist, after which she was sent off to Camp Yanisin, an overnight camp where overweight children learn how to eat and exercise properly. The most important lessons came not from the counselors, but from fellow campers, who all battled the same demons. A popular blogger, Klein is occasionally honest to the point of discomfort, but her sense of humor and appreciation of the absurd temper her periodic self-pity and make her sophomore outing at once readable and inspiring. When things get too heavy (no pun intended), there’s a childhood diary entry to lighten the mood: “I’m considered ‘hot’ at this camp. I’m going to get so much booty when I get home-don’t get me wrong, I’m not a slut. I just have a hard time saying ‘no.’ “With vivid characterizations, spot-on locale descriptions and sly jokes at her own expense, Klein offers an original and touching take on the all-too-common problem of childhood obesity.
“The memoir, which mixes painful revelations with amusing anecdotes, teems with details, like the sixth-grade Spanish class in which the teacher told students to identify themselves as fat or thin.” –The New York Times
“A sharp, funny and moving memoir.” –The St. Petersburg Times
“Long acclaimed for the sharp and witty insights on her personal blog, StephanieKlein.com, writer Stephanie Klein has now released her second book, Moose, a hilarious and heart-wrenching memoir recounting her adolescent experiences at fat camp.” –Women’s Day
“It [Moose] combines the classic misery-at-summer-camp story with the lengths we’ll go to get thin.” –USA Today