"Victoria Dawson has always felt out of place in her family, especially in body-conscious L.A. Her father, Jim, is tall and slender, and her mother, Christina, is a fine-boned, dark-haired beauty. Both are self-centered, outspoken, and disappointed by their daughter's looks. While her parents and sister can eat anything they want 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 over-sized 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.
Behind Victoria is a lifetime of hurt and neglect she has tried to forget, and even ice cream can no longer dull the pain. 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."
It has been a while since a book has provoked this kind of reaction from me. 'The Fault in Our Stars' made me cry, but 'Big Girl' made me angry, disgusted, a little hopeful, and sad in a different way. As I began to really listen to this book, I was shocked by the number of similarities I saw between myself and this book. Victoria believed that she was too big and ugly. She's blonde, she went to college in the Midwest, and she became an English teacher. Her sister is tiny and drop-dead gorgeous. This much sounds like my life-- past, present, and future. That's where the similarities ended as we learned of Jim and Christina's cruelty.
I was shocked by how they treated their eldest daughter. They were subtle at first, naming Victoria after Queen Victoria, whom her parents didn't believe was particularly beautiful. As Victoria grew older, their verbal abuse became more blatant-- calling her big and telling her that they wouldn't even help pay for her future wedding and, at her sister's wedding, telling her that she shouldn't even bother catching the bouquet because she was never going to get married any way. I was just so dumbfounded. Why would any parent think that it was okay to put down their own child like that? Why would they make their child feel like they can't do anything right, essentially driving them away from home?
Even more shocking to me was after Victoria graduated college and was about to start her first teaching job. Her parents told her that she couldn't be a teacher forever because she would eventually have to grow up and get a real job where she could make money. Pardon my language, but I became pissed off upon hearing that.
Victoria's family's pursuit for perfection was just sickening on a variety of levels. It was sad to see what this obsession could do to a person. Victoria didn't feel like she was worth it. She was a waste of space and no one would ever love her.
Okay, deep breath. Let's move on to something else...
The characters and their development in this novel was phenomenal. The characters were all so different and they each had personalities that popped off the page (or they would have, had I had a hard copy of this novel as opposed to an audio book version).
The one negative thing that I found about this book was that it was a little repetitive in the beginning before Victoria got help from her psychiatrist, but that's the only not-so-awesome thing about this book.
Overall, Danielle Steel writes a very provocative and effective novel that will interest teens and adults alike.
I give 'Big Girl':