Title: Jemima J
Author: Jane Green
Release Date: June 05, 2001
Source: personal copy
Jemima Jones is overweight. About one hundred pounds overweight. Treated like a maid by her thin and social-climbing roommates, and lorded over by the beautiful Geraldine (less talented but better paid) at the Kilburn Herald, Jemima finds that her only consolation is food. Add to this her passion for her charming, sexy, and unobtainable colleague Ben, and Jemima knows her life is in need of a serious change. When she meets Brad, an eligible California hunk, over the Internet, she has the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself–as JJ, the slim, beautiful, gym-obsessed glamour girl. But when her long-distance Romeo demands that they meet, she must conquer her food addiction to become the bone-thin model of her e-mails–no small feat.
With a fast-paced plot that never quits and a surprise ending no reader will see coming, Jemima J is the chronicle of one woman’s quest to become the woman she’s always wanted to be, learning along the way a host of lessons about attraction, addiction, the meaning of true love, and, ultimately, who she really is.
I don’t usually read reviews of a book before I read it. If I’m considering ordering a book online and the star-rating is low, then I may second-guess it, but as a rule I don’t go looking for opinions ahead of time. This time, I wish I had.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so insulted by a book, both personally and intellectually. And because I don’t want to encourage anyone else to read it, I’m not going to hold back on the spoilers.
On its face, this starts out like it’s going to be your typical “fat girl gets skinny and finds herself” story. Which is fine. Only mildly insulting, in the way that it insinuates that a fat girl can’t be loved. But as soon as Jemima starts to change her life, things go downhill, and fast.
The entire beginning of the book is spent telling us how fat and pathetic and hopeless Jemima is. People stare at her, she has problems getting around, frankly, she’s as big and ugly as a house!! So when she decides to go and join a gym in anticipation of meeting her online boyfriend, and has to step on a scale, I am expecting a number in the 300lb range. Or at least in the high 200s. Something in Biggest Loser territory.
So what’s the magic number? 204lbs. 204. Seriously. The average 200lb woman probably wears a size 18 pant. Maybe 16. Sizes that you don’t even have to go to the plus-size section of the store to find. I don’t mind telling you that I weigh more than 204 lbs, and I certainly am not stared at by random passers-by, nor do I have problems getting around, nor do people look at me weird when I eat. I do not evoke feelings of pity from the general public. I do not have problems fitting in chairs. But Jemima? Poor sweet Jemima is horribly hindered by her ginormous bulk. At 204 pounds.
I almost stopped reading there, but then I got curious about just how bad it could get. And yes, it got worse.
Jemima’s approach to losing weight is simple: eat almost nothing, and exercise as much as possible. But don’t worry! According to the author, she is definitely not anorexic! She says so, right there! No, this is a perfectly healthy approach! Anyone can survive on mineral water, lettuce, and a chicken breast every day! And look at those results! Not only has Jemima lost roughly 80 pounds in 3 months, she has a fabulously tight, perfect, body! Never mind that this is absolutely unrealistic…it’s impossible. And a horrible message to send.
But it doesn’t stop there! I actually didn’t have any problem with her rather successful meeting with her online boyfriend, but the reason why their relationship doesn’t work out is ridiculous. We are supposed to believe that he loves his fat (supposedly – who really knows) assistant, but that it would ruin him professionally if anyone knew about it. Really? Really? And their solution to this problem is for him to find a trophy wife? Just how exactly was that supposed to work out? He would just cheat on both of them forever? They’d become polygamists? How?
The entirety of the story was so ridiculous that I didn’t even care about the “hey girls, get skinny and you can find love too!” message. Or the constant switch between 1st person and 3rd person.
And don’t throw that “it’s just a fairy tale!” crap at me. Fairy tales are allowed to make sense.
It’s obvious that not only has the author never been overweight, she doesn’t even know any overweight people. Or at least has never asked them what they really weigh or how they really feel. I have read (and enjoyed) Jane Green’s books before, but this book made me angry enough that I will think twice before I pick up another.
So yeah. Don’t bother reading this book.
Available from: I don’t want you to buy this!!
- “This is an amazing, uplifting Cinderella story. No matter what her weight, I loved Jemima’s character. “ — Fancy That… Fancy This
- “This was a fairly amusing adaptation of the age-old Cinderella tale. It was rather fascinating to see Jemima make herself over, and the results that follow her transformation were both fun and thought provoking. “ — All About Romance
- “This book was exceedingly frustrating to read. Let me count the ways.” — A Chick Who Reads