The teenage veteran of a million crash diets, Ann has always been overweight. It’s hard not to feed her insecurity with more Mondo Burgers when her mom is a size 6 and her ex-best friend is a sculpted tennis pro. But when her Aunt Jackie announces that she wants Ann to be a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding, Ann decides that she needs to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in the next few months to fit into a halfway decent dress. Deciding is one thing, doing is another. At first Ann tries another infomercial diet plan, but the prepackaged food is foul and expensive. And when she hears her four year old sister mimicking her slender mother’s refrain, “I’m too fat, I can’t eat another bite,” Ann knows that she needs to model better eating habits. So she ditches the diet and goes the way of good old portion control and exercise. But will it be enough to get her weight down to where she wants it to be for the wedding? And what about that cute boy who flirted with her at the mall? Does he like like her for herself or would his flirting go a little further if she was thinner? Will losing weight really stop her divorced dad from taking her granted or make her distant older brother pay attention to her again? Ann very much seems like an updated version of Marcy Lewis from one of my favorite middle school reads, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, as she also eats to deal with complicated family matters that have nothing to do with food. Funny and frank, 45 Pounds is a good reminder that body weight that is either too high or too low is often a symptom of a more serious problem, and that if we address those problems, weight suddenly becomes more of a manageable issue. Want more books that deal honestly and realistically with issues of body weight/image and/or family problems? Try Fat Cat by Robin Brande or The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.