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Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer

After reading (and loving) Liza Palmer's second book, Seeing Me Naked, I had high expectations for her first novel. Conversations with the Fat Girl was not a disappointment. It follows lifelong "fat girl" Maggie who works at a coffee shop even though she has a masters degree in art restoration. Maggie is also hopelessly in love with Domenic--a 28 year old coffee shop busboy who moonlights as a doll maker. But she's afraid to let him get too close for fear he will see her "Area" and lose what interest he seems to have.

At the same time, Maggie's best friend and former fellow fat girl in crime, Olivia, is getting married. One gastric bypass surgery later, Olivia is now a size 2. As they plan the wedding together, Maggie begins to realize that after dropping all those dress sizes there is very little of her formerly witty and fun loving best friend left. As opposed to Elisabeth from Seeing Me Naked, Maggie has a wonderfully supportive family around when she needs them. Bit by painful bit, they help her work through her fears about her body, her self worth, Domenic, and what has happened to her best friend.

I laughed several times while reading this book, though not quite as explosively as while reading Seeing Me Naked. Maggie is easy to like. We all know what it's like to surround ourselves with safe people and a safe place to stay at a time when we're afraid of what life's gonna hand us and of how we will or will not deal with it. What's great about this book is the conversational tone the author takes with her characters, as referenced in the title. Sections in which Maggie seriously questions her life and the Way Things Are flow seamlessly out of scenes of hilarity and heartbreak, including one particularly memorable scene in which Domenic drives a rather the worse for wear Maggie home from a friend's party. As she brokenly tries to tell him how she feels, the conversation devolves into the "In Your Eyes" scene from Say Anything. Palmer knows how to nail a scene and the closing one is great. The only sad thing being that it's over.

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