A novel about principals of a possible lifestyle to affect weight loss is an interesting idea. This book has characters that were developed in a likable way, yet I disliked the predictability and type-casting that went along with the story line. Karen, an overweight woman with self esteem issues and a young child, is married to an overweight, angry husband, who is controlling and doesn't like her new friends, an older man who has maintained a healthy weight for many years, his handicapped daughter, and a dog named Courage. Of course, by learning the habits Fowler teaches her and applying them to her life, by the epilogue she has successfully lost some weight and her husband has agreed to marriage counseling.
In my opinion, the story successfully attempts to address some of the emotional issues with being overweight. It provides the author's approach to the diet side of weight loss in the form of a feel-good story. It reads like a training manual designed to keep your attention, often annoying and full of cliches, statistics meant to teach, and recognizable sound bites. Q&A conversations between the characters are obviously designed to teach specific information. Yet I found myself wanting to find out what happens to Karen precisely because it was as well-written as "an inspiring story of diet-free, guilt-free weight loss" can be.
The story line advances as the protagonist learns eight habits to change the way that she interacts with food as a lifestyle. She is allowed to fail, talk about her emotions in a safe environment, and choose again throughout the story. She is continuously and lovingly guided by her too-good-to-be-true guru and confidante and encouraged by his deep thinking daughter, whose situation is so much worse than being overweight.
The novel has a recognizable "sales chapter" where a cookbook is discussed. The name of the cookbook author is not mentioned, but, duh! The chapter refers to a meal being prepared and the Names of the Dishes capitalized, so when one Purchases Said Cookbook one can Easily Find the Recipes.
I didn't read every word, the book had too many references to "low fat". But I read at least 90% in a single sitting.
Who would benefit from this book? If you are health clueless, stuck in the great american diet, and female so you can identify with the emotional Karen, this book may be helpful in identifying ways to change to a healthier way of living. The book is repetitious in the information presented as Karen learns, fails, and attempts to apply the habits to her life; yet repetition is often how we learn. The author suggests that you re-read the book at least twice a year to reinforce the good habits taught by the story. I would find it difficult to read again, yet the story is strangely compelling and much easier to get through than a diet manual. But there is no index and so no way to look up a section. Interestingly enough, there is also not a listing anywhere that gives the eight habits as bullet points. In order to know what they are you must read the book.
I gave this book just two stars because of the Q&A conversations that feel contrived to teach the subject, plot predictability, obvious repetition for teaching purposes within the story line, and lack of an index and list of the eight habits. The book achieves its goal, which is to present sufficient information to thoroughly teach the premises of the author's blueprint for health, but I gained five pounds just reading the saccharine saturated pages.