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In this heartfelt, incisive novel, Danielle Steel celebrates the virtues of unconventional beauty while exploring deeply resonant issues of weight, self-image, sisterhood, and family.
A chubby little girl with ordinary looks, Victoria Dawson has always felt out of place in her family, especially in body-conscious L.A. While her parents and sister can eat anything and not gain an ounce, Victoria must watch everything she eats, as well as endure her father's belittling comments about her body and see her academic achievements go unacknowledged. Ice cream and oversized helpings of all the wrong foods give her comfort, but only briefly. The one thing she knows is that she has to get away from home, and after college in Chicago, she moves to New York City.
Landing her dream job as a high school teacher, Victoria loves working with her students and wages war on her weight at the gym. Despite tension with her parents, Victoria remains close to her younger sister, Grace. Though they couldn't be more different in looks, they love each other unconditionally. So when Grace announces her engagement to a man who is an exact replica of their narcissistic father, Victoria worries about her sister's future happiness, and with no man of her own, she feels like a failure once again. As the wedding draws near, a chance encounter, a deeply upsetting betrayal, and a family confrontation lead to a turning point.
Behind Victoria is a lifetime of hurt and neglect she has tried to forget. Ahead is a challenge and a risk: to accept herself as she is, celebrate it, and claim the victories she has fought so hard for and deserves. Big girl or not, she is terrific and discovers that herself.
My Thoughts: 3 Stars
This book was recommended to me so I gave it a try. The writing style was not exactly what I normally enjoy in a book, but it kept the story moving forward at a decent enough pace. I wish the details were fleshed out some more to give the book a bit more depth. The characters, in most cases, were rather two dimensional and I was bothered that Victoria never truly had her moment where she took on her family and how they treated her.
Victoria is the "tester cake" of the family. Her perfect parents with perfect builds, dark hair and eyes, slim and popular, are surprised when their baby comes out blonde and blue eyed. They only had her simply because people were suggesting they have a baby before the biological clock ran out. Victoria is an average baby and not rail thin as a child either. Her father is always making snide, hurtful remarks to her about her looks, her weight, and eventually why they named her Victoria. Victoria is never good enough for her parents, especially her father. Her parents never approve of her school friends and tell her constantly that she needs to lose weight. Seven years down the line and her baby sister is born. Gracie is a beautiful baby. She has her parents' dark hair, eyes, and slim build. Gracie is their perfect child. They dote on Gracie and teach her how they view the world and that she should see it the same way. It is obvious that Gracie is the favorite child, but Victoria does no hold it against her. She loves her younger sister. Through their lives, Victoria constantly fights with her weight and her desire to make her parents want her, love her, or be proud of her. Still, nothing works. Gracie simply breathes and their parents cheer her on.
Fortunately for Victoria, she gets her teaching degree and moves to New York, as far from her parents as she likes. She teaches at her dream school and gradually learns who she is, what she wants, and who she wants to be. Victoria shows a great deal of growth throughout her story. She battles her life with a toxic family, relationship issues, body image issues and emotional problems and comes out beautiful in the end. While the writing style is not my favorite, I enjoyed Victoria and all of her growth towards loving herself.