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LK Griffie

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Move over Nancy Drew - Heather Wells is on the case.
by LK Griffie   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, November 23, 2008
Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2008

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Review of the first book in the Heather Wells Mystery series by Meg Cabot.

Size 12 Is Not Fat
A Heather Wells Mystery
by Meg Cabot

Copyright © 2006
$ 12.95 Paperback
$ 8.40 Kindle Edition
$ 23.35 Library Binding

368 pages
ISBN: 978-0060525118

I have been trying to get an opportunity to read some of Meg Cabot's work. She is a prolific writer and I have always heard good things about her books, but haven't been able to find the time to read any of them, while trying to get Misfit McCabe launched, write the sequel, read material and write reviews for the Lulu Book Review, and oh, there's that little thing called the full time day job (which usually ends up being full time and a half). With a title like Size 12 Is Not Fat, I decided that I had to start there because the title just grabbed me. For someone who struggles daily battling the weight issue, I was looking forward to reading a book with a heroine who was not built along the lines of a toothpick. Not that toothpicks are bad, but they are much more prevalent between the covers of our favorite books than they are walking the streets. Also, I figured that with only 3 books in the series so far, I could catch up much more quickly than with The Princess Diaries series, which is getting ready to launch book number 10. Plus, I like mysteries and the bulk of my "for pleasure" reading is light weight mysteries.

On page one, Ms. Cabot had me. The story opens with Heather Wells in a dressing room struggling into a new pair of jeans she wants to purchase. In another dressing room, a girl with a voice like a chipmunk inquires as to whether there is a size smaller than zero. Heather immediately dubs chipmunk voice "Less than Zero" and continues to refer to her by that name. I could feel the giggle starting from my toes on that one. To come up with a character named Less Than Zero and take a dig at vanity sizing at the same time was brilliant. For that reason alone, I was ready to dive into the life of Heather Wells and see where I ended up.

The character of Heather Wells is modeled after Britney Spears in a what if fashion. What if a pop sensation lost her recording contract, her boyfriend, gained a dress size or two, and her mother ran off with her manager to another country stealing all of her money, while her father was in jail? Oh, and because she was performing for much of her teenage years, she didn't have any formal education to fall back on when everything blew up. Heather somehow wangles a job working in a primarily freshman residence hall for New York College, and lives a couple blocks away with her ex-boyfriend's brother, Cooper Cartwright. She helps organize and keep track of Cooper's expenses and does his billing, for which he lets her live in his 3 story pink stucco brownstone in the Village. The back drop of the residence hall is filled with realistic detail which comes from Ms. Cabot having worked in a New York freshman residence hall after graduating with an art degree, and finding no jobs that would pay the bills. Like Heather Wells, one of the main draws to the job was the offer of free tuition, so she could get a degree in something that would enable her to earn a living.

The character Heather Wells is portrayed as a 28 year old of arrested development and self-esteem issues due to the circumstances surrounding her formative years. Her maturity level is much younger than her years, and is closer to the level of the freshman residents of Fischer Hall. As we have seen through the eyes of the media and all of the attention on Britney Spears, that Britney certainly does not operate at the maturity level her years would lead you to expect. Neither does Heather Wells. She has a major, adolescent crush on her landlord, boss, and ex-boyfriend's brother, Cooper and fantasizes about him throughout the book, but is unable to communicate her feelings for him in adult manner. She also doesn't seem to know how to handle the attentions of Jordan Cartwright, the ex-boyfriend, who keeps coming around trying to reconcile with her, which confuses Heather because he just announced his engagement to someone else.

Against this background, the female students of Fischer Hall seem to be dying off at the rate of one a week, doing something so unfeminine as elevator surfing. Heather is especially suspicious because it would appear that the girls were elevator surfing alone, which never happens, and the girls in question would seem to be the least likely people on the planet to take up elevator surfing. And of paramount importance to Heather, one of the girls liked Ziggy, and no one who liked Ziggy, the uncoolest cartoon character of all, would EVER elevator surf. Of course, when no one else thought that there was anything to investigate, Heather decides to investigate events on her own. Move over Nancy Drew, Heather's on the case now and she doesn't like anyone killing her girls.

Size 12 Is Not Fat is an easy and fun read. Meg Cabot draws colorful characters which surround Heather and provide her with a sense of family, albeit an odd one. Through the dint of not being able to let go of the mystery surrounding the deaths of the freshman women of Fischer Hall, Heather ultimately prevails in solving the mystery, and in the process nearly gets Jordan Cartwright killed as well as herself, but learns something about herself along the way.


LK Gardner-Griffie Visit me at Griffie World
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Reviewed by m j hollingshead
well done
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