Drama · Fiction · Young Adult

Big Girl – Danielle Steel

Living a life, being the odd one out in the family and even ridiculed for being so, by your own family affects a person in a way that is undeniably painful and stays for life. This is a story of one such girl, her struggles to overcome what she has felt all her life and how it affects her character, confidence, life and soul.

Overview

Victoria is the older of the two girls born to Jim and Christine Dawson. Victoria takes the looks after her great grandmother. She is ordinary looking, chubby and has different hair and skin colour and that makes her the victim of her father’s constant jibes and her mother’s ceaseless criticisms. The cherry on top comes in form of Gracie, Victoria’s perfect sister seven years younger than her and a replica of their parents.

All through her childhood, Victoria suffered through her parents’ attitude towards her and constant whimpering. She was a scapegoat for everything that went wrong. Gracie on the other hand did everything right and was an ideal child for their parents.

Victoria escapes all this by going to a school at Northwestern near Chicago. And then she decides to take teaching as career and move to New York. This of course is disapproved by her father and he wants her to get a “real job”. She however, continues teaching at one of the best private school and loves her job and gets good at it.

Meanwhile, she dates a few person and every time comes back to the same conclusion of being unlikable when the relationship ends. She visits a psychiatrist and sees a change in her overall personality and her views for self. She finds some wonderful friends like Harlan, Jack, Carla and ends up with the love of her life, Collin.

Back in LA, Gracie grows up to be extremely popular and beautiful and ends up getting engaged on the day of her graduation just like her parents to Harry Wilkes. Harry is controlling and even betraying Gracie but gets away with it because of his utter rich parents. Every body is crazy about the big wedding which Victoria disapproves because of Harry’s nature.

The book ends with wedding and Collin standing rock solid by Victoria’s side and fighting on her behalf.

I liked

The relationship between Victoria and Gracie was one of the very few plus points of the book. The unconditional love, no jealousy (though there was every reason for Victoria to be jealous), constant approval of each other was what describes almost every sibling’s relationship. It was purely beautiful (except in the end of course when the relation gets tarnished because of the wonder groom and super wedding).

The easy friendship of Harlan, Bunny and Victoria and their lives was good to read.

Collin was the gem of the story. He was every girl’s dream. Looks apart (though good looks never hurt), he was caring, stood by her, fought for her and gave her the needed space. His’ wasn’t the puppy type romance that most love stories have. His encounter with Jim is a must read.

Victoria’s teaching career at Madison school was also pleasing to read. One could easily relate it with real life experiences.

I didn’t like

Victoria, the constant self pity and internal whining and concluding to the same reason that she is fat and not beautiful for every situation in her life is infuriating. I mean there are girls out there who are so called “big”, seek comfort in ice creams and fatty foods, feel desolate, have negligent social life but still nobody comes near to Victoria.

The characters of the book are annoying. What type of parents don’t like their new born child? What kind of sister is indifferent to her sister’s feeling on some stupid dress? What kind of girl with good brains, financial stability, wonderful reviews even at the start of the career and some wonderful friends is constantly sad and complaining and anguished.

The portrayal of Christine Dawson, the psychiatrist sessions( Even a person with psychology major was unhappy with that in one of the reviews here by Rachel), how lonely Victoria is and this and that and almost everything. The list is too long and I don’t even want to dwell on it. Last one thing that annoyed me the most is the constant repetition of certain things that I had got  memorised by the time I finished the book. Victoria is fat, does not have a “real job”, has no boyfriend still, looks like her great grandmother and Queen Victoria, men don’t like fat girls, not even smart girls, Gracie is perfect in everything, …

Bottom Line

Upbringing and attitude of parents does play a huge role in how a child turns out to be. This was the message that the book tried to convey. Its about how the looks and body structure of Victoria and the indifferent and sometimes cruel attitude of her parents destroyed Victoria’s confidence and made her a self pitying spinster. Please let me know what you think about the book.

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches. – Dita Von Teese

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