Stranger Here: How Weight Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed With My Head by Jen Larsen(2 out of 5)
I really hoped I would have sympathized more with Larsen’s story. By that, I do sympathize and I am glad she did the surgery and lost the weight. I’m just not sure if she is real glad. I felt like she was writing her book to share her story and inspire those of us still grappling with weight issues(yes, I am one of them). I felt like I was reading a book that summed up the weight loss surgery and almost does a cheerleading routine for it, yet there is something missing here. You have to try it and judge for yourself, obviously.
Jen Larsen, after years of being best friends with her body, decides to get weight loss surgery. She loses 180 pounds, and it seems, a part of herself. She speaks with unrelenting frankness on the process of getting to that point, the operation, and the physical and emotional repercussions. She speaks of what she went through for years in way of comments, looks, and the numerous Kit-Kat bars she ingested while sitting and watching her loser boyfriend play video games(I’ve had one of those, so I sympathized) instead of commit a relationship. Nothing here is sugar-coated- I love that she is so honest about every aspect of her struggles leading up to that point. Something about the after- when things turn out to not be so much of a world through rose-colored glasses-that loses me. Jen’s voice goes from personally affected to informative insider. I feel at parts of the book like I’m watching an episode of The Doctors. Which is fine, as it is a weight loss memoir, but there needed to be more emotional replay. You peel away more and more parts of Jen’s weight loss saga and the resulting issues, but you never know what led her to that path- was her weight loss issue medical, or was it emotional? Every weight loss memoir I’ve ever read(including the one I’m trying to write myself), there is much discussion of what led up to that point. Was it family genetics? Was it poor self-esteem? Was it repressed sexual abuse? You really feel here as if you don’t know, there’s a secret here somewhere. Maybe Larsen is hoping the reader will uncover it and let her know; who knows? I do know that frustrated me, as a reader. As a weight loss struggler(still, and I am no longer over 200 lbs, as I was at one point) my entire life(still), I want to know what led to this. Larsen is so frank in the entire book, why wouldn’t she address that? That was one of my main complaints.
My other main complaint is that I feel as if she just doesn’t seem very grateful for the process that led to her amazing end result. It sounds like she did the surgery and is pleased to have lost all this weight- she literally does feel like a new person, but throughout the book, the overlying vibe is one of dissension. And that the book came about- to warn people who are thinking of doing it what may or may not happen, but it’s hard to relate to something when you feel like something is missing. It felt like something is missing. Like my co-worker Dan said, you can put her book against Al Roker’s book, in terms of overall term. Roker’s is the Shiny Happy People version of the weight loss surgery saga, and Larsen’s is the I Hate Everything About You(Ugly Kid Joe, for those who don’t know) version. Two radically different takes, and that’s usually good. For some reason, I just did not set this book down and have a good overall vibe about it. I feel like we can all get on board Jen’s train, but half of the cars are missing.