Book: Just a Few Inches
Author: Tara St. Pierre
POV: 1st person by Carrie, past tense
Genre: YA contemporary, bit of sci-fi
Source: ebook, author (thank you, Tara!)
Release: June 1st 2015
Favourite Line: "As much as I want additional height, these shoes aren't the answer. I'd rather try to stand tall on my own."
Rating: 4 stars
All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller.
To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates.
Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be.
Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems—problems that are growing more terrifying every day.
Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.
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"Just a Few Inches" is a Young Adult novel that deals with issues of body image, self-esteem, and teenage relationships. It is intended for readers age 13 and up.
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This book features a girl named Carrie Roberts, who, upon a vain and insecure decision, takes an over-the-counter weight loss drug in hopes of dropping a dress size down within a week. Taking a few more than recommended, strange things start happening to Carrie as she realizes that not only is she looking weight, but she's also getting shorter. And shorter. And shorter. And there seems to be no stopping to it...
The premise of the book is brilliant. You know when you try to shrink a photo, and the only way you can do that is by shrinking both the width and height at the same time? That's basically what Carrie is going through, what the drug has caused. You try to lose a few inches outwards, you're going to lose a few inches height-wise too. Still proportional, just smaller...and smaller...
Each chapter is titled by Carrie's current height, so we get to watch (with dread) as Carrie continues to shrink in height. Carrie is forced to battle social issues with her diminishing height, like bullies, and other condescending looks. School becomes a very interesting setting to read about, given that Carrie's school does its best to make every accommodation for her in class, and that Carrie continues as a part of her cheerleading squad. Given that it is also her senior year, Carrie must go through prom as well as graduation with her condition. Though she faces many difficulties, it's really nice to see how much her school and teachers do for her.
I loved Carrie's character growth. In the beginning, she's a little insecure about herself, and feels the need to prove herself when it comes to bullies. But as she begins to shrink, she begins to see things and people in different lights. She begins to see who truly is her friend, and the extend of her family's love for her. Carrie does a lot of reflecting, and begins to question exactly why she took those dieting pills, and whether they were truly worth it, even if she hadn't started to lose height. By the end, Carrie has matured in various ways, able to recognize toxic relationships and able to love herself just for herself. She's gone through various labels, including cheerleader, freak, editor, shrinking girl, celebrity, experimental guinea pig, Diane and Frank's daughter, and so forth, and is able to pick and choose which ones are the ones that truly define who she is, which ones actually matter.
This book addresses a really powerful message, one not just about bodies, but also one about what real love is, both family-wise and relationship-wise. We get to see two different kinds of love, and both spectrums of it. What is family love? We get a contrast of Carrie's family as well as another girl's, Janelle. What is a good relationship, based off a good love? We get to see Carrie with two boys, each who love her in slightly different ways.
It's an undeniable truth: people treat you different based on how you look. But it shouldn't affect the way you're loved, or how you love others. Let's begin with Carrie's boyfriend, Todd. Carrie's physical alterations takes a toll on their relationship, and shows that a large part of their relationship is dictated her physique. Love isn't supposed to be like that, and Carrie comes to realize it. It's not loving someone because they're good-looking and has an agreeable personality. It should be mainly personality; should your looks change, the relationship shouldn't alter your love for someone. Ever. At all. Because they're still the same person on the inside, and that's what matters the most.
Another thing that is addressed in this book is that no matter what happens on the outside, you're still you on the inside. Carrie faces this issue, and upon shrinking, tries to get people to see that. Yes, she's two feet tall and growing shorter, but she's still the same 18-year old girl who's a whiz at grammar, is thoughtful and caring. Her heart may physically grow smaller, but as the book progresses, her heart grows bigger and bigger. I'm glad that there's one person who truly sees her for who she is, who doesn't care about her changing size, and openly loves her for who she is. Because they were adorable.
This book isn't just about losing weight; it tackles much bigger themes, and has an element of sci-fi in it to keep the novel gripping. I really enjoyed the deeper meanings behind the story, and I loved the relationship dynamics between Carrie, her friends, and her family. It's during adversity that you get to see who really is on your side and who's not, and the people who love you won't care whether you're tall or short or large or thin. They love you for you, just as everyone should. We are not defined by numbers, not by the number on the scale or the height charts. We are so much more, and we should love both our unique bodies and souls. After all, you only have one body and one soul, and no one else can ever love it as much as you can.