Friday, August 12, 2011

BIG GIRL by Danielle Steel

Publisher: Dell
Date published: March 22, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-440-24521-6
Mass Market Paperback
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher.

Victoria Dawson has always been considered the ‘big girl’ in her family and spends her entire life dealing with the putdowns and ridicule of her parents because of it. Referred to as the ‘tester cake’ while her beautiful younger sister, Gracie, was born the perfect one, Victoria’s low self-esteem and difficulty overcoming her weight problem, since she had been unfortunate enough to resemble her grandmother, makes her put her efforts more into learning, in an effort to fit in with her family in the hope that they will take pride in her accomplishments. But despite becoming a ‘smart girl’, her parents insist she is still lacking in the looks department and barely take notice of her academic achievements.

After college, Victoria chooses to follow her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher, a career that embarrasses her well-to-do family, since nothing Victoria does is ever good enough. Gracie has already been earning some big bucks through advertising, commercials, and such, which makes Victoria even more insecure with her looks since Gracie never has to work at hers. Gracie never has to diet as Victoria does either, which makes her parents continually take verbal potshots at her for being whom they consider a ‘loser’.

As Victoria eventually becomes head of the English department at a prestigious private school in New York City, she begins to blossom. Taking control of her life, she becomes independent of her family, joining a gym and disciplining herself to lose weight. She even finds herself discarding her ugly nose for a new one and becoming involved with a handsome lawyer, Collin White, who, amazingly, has similar family problems of his own.

As their relationship grows and Victoria prepares for her sister’s unfortunate wedding to a rich man her parents are anxious to have join the family, she soon comes to realize, with Collin’s love and support, that she really is beautiful...inside and out.

BIG GIRL by Danielle Steel is a wonderful story. It is so well-written, as are all of Ms. Steel’s books, that I found it hard to ever put this one down. The story just flowed so smoothly, and I enjoyed meeting all of the wonderful characters as they went about their lives.

The characters in BIG GIRL are so alive and easy to relate to. I’m sure many readers have been in similar circumstances as Victoria encountered, fighting weight problems, competing against others who make us feel bad about ourselves, having low self-esteem when we don’t measure up to our parents’ ideals, no matter what we do to try and earn their love and approval.

I really felt Victoria’s pain whenever her parents ridiculed her about her weight or her looks. And when Victoria made the move to talk to a psychiatrist about her family problems, I felt it was the best thing she could have done. Talking about her problems with a trained professional was a big help because not everyone has friends who want to listen when people share such things. The fact that Ms. Steel threw this into the mix was a great idea. It really helped Victoria discover that she was not the problem, but her parents. And I loved the fact that Victoria and Gracie loved each other so much and that Victoria never once was jealous of the fact that her parents preferred Gracie over her. It was painful, however, when Victoria learns that she is so unloved by her parents. I am certain many readers can also relate to this.

Ms. Steel has such a knack for writing, especially about real-life situations. I haven’t read one of her novels that hasn’t touched me in some way, and BIG GIRL is no different. I absolutely loved reading it and did feel a bit sad when the story ended. I became so involved with Victoria’s problems and how she tried to overcome them, it was often heartwarming when something good finally came her way.

The icing on the cake was when Victoria met Collin. He was such a wonderful, kind character who related so well to Victoria and what her life had been like. I found myself rooting for their relationship to keep going in a positive way since there had been so many disappointments with Victoria’s past relationships.

I would recommend BIG GIRL to anyone who enjoys feel-good reads and, in my opinion, this one is top-notch.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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