Just a Few Inches
Tara St. Pierre
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When Carrie finds the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day dance, she buys it, even though it’s a size too small. Though she only has days to prepare for the dance, she radically changes her food intake and begins taking diet pills, more than the recommended dose. She slims down just in time for the dance. The dress, the night with her boyfriend, everything is perfect. Until Carrie realizes it isn’t only her waist that’s smaller. It’s her. She’s shrinking. Doctors scramble to find a cure while Carrie grows ever smaller. As she shrinks, she loses social status, but even worse, her independence. As she gets smaller each day, she begins to wonder if doctors will find a cure in time, or if she’ll shrink until she disappears.
When I first saw this book, I thought it was going to be about anorexia. And certainly at first, Carrie’s dangerous foray into diet pills and extreme dieting seem to be part of behaviors and ideas that lead to anorexia. But she quits the pills and dieting once the dance is over. And then the real trouble begins. Carrie starts out at more than five and a half feet tall. Before the story ends, she shrinks several feet. So it was really more about how her change in height affects her relationships at school and home. Her parents begin to treat her like a much younger child. Her boyfriend finds it difficult to continue their romance. It also changes her role on the cheer squad and eventually her ability to attend school.
So it was definitely different than I expected. I liked that it was a fresh, different story. Some of the descriptions of things Carrie experiences related to her height changes were really vivid and interesting. In other ways, I was left wondering what things were like for her. I couldn’t always tell if she was literally shrinking with all of her physical proportions remaining the same, or if she was shrinking like growing in reverse order, so that proportionally she’d be more like a toddler as she shrank that small?
Though the real story is Carrie’s emotional journey in realizing her value doesn’t come from her height, some of that gets undercut by her parents’ treatment of her. Then, the resolution of her medical issues happens in a quick montage at the end, and I felt like those moments didn’t get the emphasis they deserved.
Her relationship with her friends on the cheer squad is a high point in the story. Readers looking for stories about friendship and self-image may find this one scratches those itches.
The characters are pretty homogenous. Everyone seems to be white middle class.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Carrie and her boyfriend kiss in the back seat of his car. She lets him touch her breasts. Later, they go up to his room and she reports that they have sex. No details. When her medical troubles start, her doctor asks if she’s sexually active, and because her mom is present, Carrie lies. She feels ashamed about lying.
Carrie takes diet pills and doesn’t follow the instructions. She takes much more than the dosage she should.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.