WOW. WOW. WOW. (Did I say WOW?) The one thing you need to know about this book is Wow. The rest is gravy. Which is, this is a story about body image and is told in a familiar manner. But this time it is told from the point of view of a boy instead of a girl like we are used to.
I have had Jarrett Lerner books ruined for me because of A Work in Progress. I will never be able to read them without comparing this book to it. In fact, I will always compare this to other books on the subject. It is best for ages 10 to 14, but younger can do it and older should. This would be good for a classroom or a child. Or even an adult. There is a lot going on and it is important to know.
To give you the plot, and the why I read this almost in one sitting (but didn’t as on day one I started late and wanted to go to bed, on day two I read a few pages but was not in the frame of mind this book needed, so day three saw me finishing): Several years after the event in the hallway that fateful day in fourth grade, Will still worries about how he is seen by others. After all, he is FAT and that means ugly, unworthy, unlovable, a monster. (I would interpret his feelings as “The Crime of Being Fat,” which of course, is no crime, but the hallway event made him feel as if he was committing a crime by being himself). One day he decides that his thin parents are thin not because they stuff their face with the pizza, and the thin girl will only like him if he is thin (after all he heard the other girls laugh and choose drinking puke over kissing him), so he will be thin. No matter what. The sparse but powerful images tell the story of Will as if we are almost in his head. The poetic feeling of the text is quick and you will rush through it. But don’t. I know I said three days, and could have in one, but that was actually the wrong way to read, I feel. It should be slowly digested.
It was hurtful to see the pain Will is going through (he is punishing himself because he cannot “unlearn” this fact about himself, and how it has negatively impacted him). For anyone going through this or has gone through this, this book is terribly relatable. The ending is realistic and what the story needs. My favorite lines are not because they are “happy lines/images/statements” but because they are not “happy” and explain things in ways if you’re not experiencing/have experienced, you might not understand. I was Will when I was growing up. Still am actually, but I want Will (and all the Wills, and Willows,) to know that it gets easier (granted some days are harder than others) but even as an adult I am A Work in Progress, and that is okay.