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Fat: A Love Story is not simply a book about an overweight girl, although that subject is treated sensitively and realistically. It is about the qualities of friendship, self-esteem, identity, class structure, and even the nature of the universe.

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The fast pace of the book makes it an absorbing, easy read, and the mixture of quirkiness with realism makes the characters memorable. Rita Formica, Nicole Sicard, and Arnold Bromberg may be unusual in many respects, but the thread of their humanity is strong.

The central struggle of the book is Rita's attempt to come to terms with her weight. A fat child and now a fat teenager, Rita simply likes to eat. Part of the action of the book is Rita's exploration of why she eats and how she begins to overcome her obsession. Her eating binges may speak to many teenagers, and the self-awareness that Rita begins to develop creates a forum for thinking about other addictions as well.

Wersba does a good job of weaving together Rita's weight problem with issues of identity and self-esteem. Thus, while Rita's weight is important, it is not an isolated problem. It is symbolic of all teenagers' struggles for self-identity and self-esteem.

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