In this “big-hearted triumph of a novel” (Carolyn Parkhurst, New York Times bestselling author) for fans of Jennifer Weiner, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.
Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives.
Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, discovered early that only slimness earns admiration. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.
The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.
But the women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability...until they decide to take matters into their own hands.
Randy Susan Meyers “spins a compelling tale” (Kirkus Reviews) and “delivers a timely examination of body image, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman in modern society...Culturally inclusive and societally on point, this is a must-read” (Library Journal).
Meyers's lackluster latest (after The Widow of Wall Street) concerns what turns out to be an unscrupulous documentary about weight loss, and what two participating women do to avenge themselves. After Alice Thompson's filmmaker husband, Clancy, admits that her weight has lessened his attraction to her, she agrees to appear in a rival documentarian's new project involving a weight-loss camp. Makeup artist Daphne also signs up after a lifetime of being harangued by her well-meaning mother. Though the women were enticed by promises of a well-organized wellness center, they're subjected to verbal cruelty, grueling exercises, and a reliance on amphetamine pills. Alice and Daphne escape the film set and use stolen footage to make their own expos , but the girl-power ending feels forced. Meyers's prose is often overwritten: "Machinelike, she scooped out the candy, shoved in the pieces, masticated, and began again, hardly waiting to swallow as her full hand stood ready like an eager soldier, prepared to send the next wave of reinforcements to their deaths." Some details also require a suspension of disbelief: after a day of hard physical activity, participants have to force themselves to eat their meal of tofu and veggies in a broth. This heavy-handed novel falls short. \n
Losing weight was never more challenging
There is an old Yiddish proverb, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” Well, maybe not a Yiddish proverb, but find me a Jewish mother of a certain era, and I guarantee her daughter will tell you she heard this at least once or twice. This is the premise behind Waisted, a novel about the lengths women will go to to adhere to society’s expectations.
Alice is a mixed race mom married to a white documentary film maker. At the time she met Clancy, she had endured a bitter breakup and was the thinnest she could ever imagine being. Clancy didn’t know that this was not the norm for Alice, so his expectations were that she’d always be rail thin. Alice had a Jewish mother, but her Jewish mother didn’t espouse the “too rich or thin” mantra. In fact the opposite. Her mother went out of her way to make Alice embrace her “blackness” by accepting her curves.
Daphne is a white Jewish middle class mom from the burbs who grew up with the quintessential Jewish mother, always watching every crumb that Daphne consumed. Daphne married Sam, the most gentle, kind man one could imagine. Sam would love Daphne if she shaved her head and tattooed every inch of her body, so there are no expectations in their marriage that Daphne should be thin. But as most of us know, a mother’s words can play tapes on repeat in your head. Daphne is forever striving for her mother’s approval.
When a flier for casting for a documentary film ends up in both these women’s hands, they jump at the opportunity to participate. The documentary is going to cover the weight loss adventures of seven women. The caveat is that you must relinquish any contact with the outside world for one month. One month that the filmmakers will cover your salary for missed work. In this brochure they promise all sorts of wonderful things such as quick weight loss in a healthy setting, but the reality is anything but.
I found this novel a fabulous tale of finding your voice and your true self in a world where the “norms” are not always achievable. I grew up with a mother like Daphne’s so I really identified with how she felt growing up and still hearing those voices as an adult. I think that each one of the women has a quality that most of us can identify with. Fitting into society’s molds is what a lot of parents expect from their kids. I think that is the moral of this story. You don’t have to fit a mold to make a difference, or be a great mom, or love yourself. Myers has crafted a story of women bonding and finding friendship in spite of their differences. Also, about acceptance, which is something I believe our culture struggles to find. I would recommend this one to all my female friends.
Review originally posted at BookwormishMe.com