Thursday, August 28, 2014

[Book Review] Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet by Jenny Ruden

Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness DietCamp Utopia and The Forgiveness Diet
Sixteen-year-old Baltimore teen Bethany Stern knows the only way out of spending her summer at Camp Utopia, a fat camp in Northern California, is weight-loss. Desperate, she tries The Forgiveness Diet, the latest fad whose infomercial promises that all she has to do is forgive her deadbeat dad, her scandalous sister, and the teenage magician next door and (unrequited) love of her life. But when the diet fails and her camp nemesis delivers the ultimate blow, Bee bids sayonara to Camp-not-Utopian-at-all to begin what she believes will be her “real” summer adventure, only to learn that running away isn’t as easy—or as healing—as it seems.  

Her wry and honest voice bring humor and poignancy for anyone, fat or thin, tired of hearing “you’d be so pretty if…[insert unwelcome judgment about your appearance from loved one or perfect stranger].”

First things first - Camp Utopia and the Forgiveness Diet does have fat jokes in it. Yes, it is about fat camp. About a very insecure, overweight girl who focuses way too much on her weight and avoids the problems that are going on in her life. Throw in a trip that she didn't want to fat camp, her neighbor that she had crush on doesn't want her, and a dad who left years ago and never contacts her? Oh yeah, let's not forget her mother who always talks to her about losing weight and eating less. 

So, yes. Fat camp. The place where kids dreams go to die because their parents have other things to do other than show their children how to control their diet. Story started out funny enough, with Bethany being an innocent girl who just wanted to be happy and felt ignored and out of place. So when she gets to Camp Utopia, she's the heaviest girl there. Again, soooo out of place for a sixteen year old. I found it very interesting that the author never actually tells us her weight. 

Long story short, Bethany rebels and runs away with her new friend Cambridge and refuses to go back and follow the camp's routine that's been set in place. The problem with this part of the book is that I take my fitness and nutrition very seriously, so for her to completely ignore it and turn back because it's "too hard"? I don't do excuses when it comes to getting your body healthy and in shape. 

But then Bethany opens up and I see her from a completely different side. The struggle that she went through, how everything in her past effected her decisions and why she is insecure. & I started to feel more respect for her. Actually seeing the change at the end was incredible and I'm glad that I stuck around longer to find out how it ends. 

I received this book free from  the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my opinion in any way.

Jenny RudenAbout Jenny Ruden

Jenny Ruden has published short stories and essays in Nerve, Salon, Eclectica Magazine, Literary Mama and High Desert Journal. She won an Orlando award for creative nonfiction, was named a finalist in Glimmertrain’s short fiction contest, and has been nominated for the Pushcart prize two years in a row. She has worked with teenagers for over ten years as a teacher of Reading, Writing and GED, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon. She lives with her husband, two daughters, two basset hounds and cat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit her website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.