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Teenage Waistlandby Lynn Biederman
Synopses & Reviews
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Marcie, 5'4'', 288 lbs
Marcie Mandlebaum here: sixteen years old and sporting the collective girth of the Tenafly High cheerleading squad--this according to their captain, my twitorexic stepsister, Liselle. She's too much of a dimwit to master the intricacies of a tape measure, but there's no denying it. Her guesstimate is in the ballpark.
We're crammed into a crummy conference room in the Midtown Sheraton, waiting for some Park Avenue doctor to pitch his clinical trial for Lap-Band weight loss surgery for teens. By we, I mean me; my mother, Abby; and every fat chick within a fifty-mile radius of New York City who could stand to drop at least one hundred pounds. A couple of fathers and maybe six fat guys are here, but it's more a female thang--sixty or so heifers being herded around, for the most part, by tiny fat-o-phobic, lipo-sucked mothers like mine. This is nothing like SeaWorld, where every baby whale can count on having a bigger mama.
I haven't seen so many fatties together in one place since our nightmarish visit to Graceland in Memphis last summer. We spent four sweltering hours waiting in a stampede of bulging polyester just to get in. Ground zero for the world's obesity epidemic. Welcome home, Moosie, Liselle had snickered. But rather than injecting her usual diplomacy to avert a brawl, Abby seized the reins of Liselle's bandwagon and said, Of course you're not anywhere near the size of these people, darling, but your weight has been moving in the wrong direction and you need to turn it around. But that was more than sixty pounds ago, so now Abby's dragged me here.
Five rows of metal folding chairs have been halfheartedly arranged in front of the stage, as if the bozos setting up for the event weren't certain this particular audience should sit in them--for me and my tubby brethren, there's a fine line between a chair and a catastrophe. I blow past whatever few empty death traps are left and park myself in one of the open spots against the wall. Abby, hot on my trail, wiggles her way into the three centimeters of breathing space beside me by shoving one blubbery mass into another with an apologetic smile. Standing room only, she whispers into my ear, ignoring their glares. To Abby, who won't eat in a restaurant that doesn't have a waiting list for an open table, crowds--excluding the one at Graceland--provide indisputable evidence that we're in the right place. The thing is, we're not.
Finally, while the groans of stressed metal die down, Dr. Hal Weinstein, the head of the Lap-Band program at Park Avenue Bariatrics, steps to the podium and tests the microphone. This is my signal to pull out my iPod--what don't I already know about this surgery? I've been hearing about it blow by blow for over a year. But Abby whacks my hand and flashes her eyes at me--her behave yourself glare. Just listen for a change. You might learn something, Abby hisspers--her standard hiss/whisper combo--and I resign myself to a slow and painful death.
Weinstein leans forward, pauses, and then booms into the mike: The Lap-Band is not the solution to weight loss. My eyes fly open. WTF? Has the seminar been hijacked by some fanatical fat power fringe group and the real doctor is lying gutted in some back room? My hopes are dashed as he finishes his thought. The Lap-Band is merely a tool, albeit an effective one if
Struggling with teenage obesity, Marcie, East and Bobby meet through a clinical trial that approves them for potentially life-changing weight-loss surgery and compels them to share private secrets with each other and a fourth fellow patient who is determined to reinvent herself. Co-written by the author of Unraveling.
In their separate voices, three morbidly obese New York City teens relate their experiences participating in a clinical trial testing lap-band surgery for teenagers, which involves a year of weekly meetings and learning to live healthier lives.
About the Author
Lynn Biederman is the coauthor of the acclaimed young adult novel Unraveling, available from Laurel-Leaf Books. Even though she has degrees in both law and library and information science, Lynn would absolutely love to go to culinary school . . . if only tuition were free. Visit her at lynnbiederman.com.
During her eclectic career, Lisa S. Pazer has written economic analysis columns in trade magazines, financial commentary on Wall Street, lectures for Russian bankers after the fall of the Berlin Wall, business plans for the software company she cofounded, and much more. With Teenage Waistland, Lisa has finally come home to her first love—fiction. Visit her at www.LisaPazer.com.
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