By: Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Penguin Random House Audio/Random House Audio
Genre: Fiction – Contemporary Women
Release Date: July 11, 2017
9 Hours and 30 Minutes
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
From the bestselling authors of The Knockoff, an outrageously funny novel about one woman’s attempt—through clay diets, naked yoga, green juice, and cultish workout classes—to win back her career, save her best friend, and lose thirty pounds.
When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin—the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin—her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don’t fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman’s tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can’t help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture. http://www.penguinrandomhouseaudio.com/book/546487/fitness-junkie/
People obsessed with anything may go overboard, but when you combine power, money, false friendship and body image, you get people working out to the point of exhaustion and eating things like clay.
The characters here are slightly cartoonish and the events are contrived, but Janey and her way upper-middle class friends, as they move through the faddish and personality-cult world of diet and exercise crazes somehow strike a chord in this exercise and diet junky’s heart. The lengths people go to to be thin, in most cases too thin, have little to do with health and a lot to do with whatever crazy ideas we have about our body. In this case it is a form of misogyny, and envy and it is not pretty. As my old social studies teacher used to say, “Beauty is skin deep but ugliness goes straight to the bone.” Some of the characters in this one start out ugly to the bone and stay that way.
The characters are far out, over the top and pretty funny; very snarky.
But the story also has this 40-ish woman examining what she wants; who she wants. And, that also speaks to my compulsion. For me it is about being thin, strong, and having healthy bones. For Janey it’s about this relationship she and her business partner have outgrown, it’s about taking control. Thank goodness Janey is a skeptical woman.
The narracting (my new word) was interesting, especially with all the grunts and sounds made while exercising. There are other important characters on their own fitness journeys. There are other journeys happening as well, some of them about how our lives sometimes occlude fully living.
I enjoyed the book. Sykes and Piazza use humor to point at some very important issues for both genders to consider about weight, career and relationship.