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Conversations With The Fat Girl    by Liza Palmer order for
Conversations With The Fat Girl
by Liza Palmer
Order:  USA  Can
5 Spot, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

Liza Palmer crafts a fantastic debut novel, a heartwarming, funny romantic comedy that breathes new life into the often flooded chick lit genre that has seen so many been there, done that plots. Palmer surpasses the usual, hum-drum offerings in Conversations With The Fat Girl.

At the age of twenty-eight with a Masters Degree, 'plus-sized' protagonist Maggie unsatisfactorily glides through life working in a coffee shop. She is not employed by a museum where she could fully use her education and her talents. She is not in love. In fact, with the exception of a few misses with boys and men through the years, Maggie has never had a steady boyfriend. Her weight has always stood in the way, stifling her personality and inner beauty. Maggie's friend from high school, Olivia, was in the same boat as Maggie for many years. Olivia was morbidly obese throughout childhood. The two formed a close friendship and consoled each other while other girls had a normal teenage life of social outings with the popular group, dating boys, etc.. Maggie and Olivia wanted those things, but did not have the self-esteem or looks to fit into the normal high school crowd.

Things change drastically when Olivia undergoes gastric bypass surgery, shrinks down to a tiny size two and snags a fiancé who is gorgeous and a doctor to boot. Maggie is the Maid of Honor. She truly is honored to play such a special role in Olivia's wedding, but there is a problem. Olivia has changed after surgery. Yes, she has lost tons of weight but her personality has changed, as well – and not for the better. Although she neglected to tell her fiancé and new friends about her past, Olivia's insecurities still exist, and have turned her into a superficial 'bridezilla'. Maggie can scarcely bear to deal with her, having enough challenges of her own (finding a real job and possibly making a move on the cute busboy who works in the coffee shop).

Conversations With The Fat Girl explores issues of friendship, love, family, values and self-esteem. Palmer manages to broach all of them in a light, yet poignant manner that makes this book highly entertaining and thought-provoking. I found myself laughing out loud several times, and found Maggie a likeable heroine who is bravely and, at times, desperately, trying to find herself. I highly recommend this book to chick lit fans and look forward to reading more by Palmer.

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