"Are you saying size twelve is fat?" I ask him
"No," the sales clerk insists. "You misunderstood me. I meant - "
"Because size twelve is the size of the average American woman," I point out to him. I know this because I've read it in People magazine. "Are you saying that instead of being average, we're all fat?"
I read Size 12 Is Not Fat a few years ago, shortly after it came out. I'm a big fan of Meg Cabot and can't pass up on her hilarious chick-lit. I think I read the first two books in the series, but never got around to the third. Last week, however, I found out that the series has been extended to include a fourth and fifth book; the fourth book, Size 12 and Ready to Rock, comes out tomorrow, so I decided I should re-read the series from the start. It's not actually chick-lit as much as mystery, but it's still very funny.
28-year-old Heather Wells is a former teen pop sensation who now works as director's assistant at Fischer Hall, a dorm (that is, residence hall) for New York College undergrads. She took the job because of the free tuition benefit, so that she can finally complete her BA. The job, however, is not enough to pay the bills - in exchange for rent, she does the accounting for her landlord, Cooper Cartwright. He's a private investigator and elder brother to Jordan Cartwright, Heather's ex-boyfriend and rock singer.
Heather has had to deal with many sticky situations on her job, but now she's facing the biggest issue of all - two freshman girls in her dorm have been found dead in the elevator's shaft, presumably after falling down while elevator surfing. Heather, however, is quite convinced that these straight-laced students would not do something so stupid and starts to investigate on her own, in order to prove that the two girls have been pushed to death. At first the police don't believe her, but then it looks like the killer is going after Heather herself.
Heather is a stubborn, brave character you can't but love. She has had a very eventful life. After working as a pop singer for almost ten years, singing songs she hated in malls all around the country, she demanded to be able to perform her own songs. Her label, in turn, dropped her, as they thought she had gained too much weight. More to that, she broke up with her boyfriend Jordan, who was cheating on her. Then she discovered her mother had stolen all her savings and fled to Argentina with her manager. Broke, without a job or a place to stay, she's offered an apartment by her ex boyfriend's brother, Cooper.
Cooper is the black sheep in his family - he owns an investigation company and wants nothing to do with his father's record label. Heather is in love with him, but he seems uninterested. Heather thinks that Cooper likes his women to be gorgeous, well-educated, super-accomplished, and skinny; and feels she will never be able to compete. Moreover, Jordan is still around, claiming he cares about her, even though he's engaged to another woman.
The mystery element of this book holds its own. I was able to guess the killer's identity just a few pages before Heather herself (I could not remember it from my previous time reading the book). However, I'd say I was far more interested in the character's relationships than in solving the mystery. I hope that Heather gets Cooper in the end, because she deserves someone good who can take care of her after that jerk Jordan. I thought they would get together in the third book, but apparently not. I know a different love interest for Heather is going to appear in the next book, Size 14 Is Not Fat Either - love triangle!
Body image is a theme throughout the whole novel. When Heather is told by random strangers that "she'd look a lot like Heather Wells, if she were thinner", she acts unaffected, even though she's hurt, but doesn't let her weight define her. Size 12 is the size of the average American woman, after all. I like it that she doesn't have to get skinny in order to attract a man. I wonder if she'll get to perform her own songs in public eventually.
I'd definitely recommend this to readers who like cozy mysteries and a chick-lit heroine who kicks butt and is not too concerned with her weight. Of course I'm going to continue reading the series!Cover attraction:
I like this clean look on a white background. I also appreciate it that there si no cover model. It obviously points more to chick-lit than mystery, but I don't mind.