Friday, July 3, 2015

Dear Opl by Shelly Sackier

Title:  Dear Opl
Author:  Shelly Sackier
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
ISBN:  9781492608592
Price:  $7.99 U.S. (paperback)
Publish Date:  August 4, 2015
Target Audience:  Middle Grade

Confession time. I am not an emotional person. At all. My husband sometimes says I have no soul because he cries during movies while I sit emotionless. Things affect me, but I don't outwardly show emotion  That being said, Dear Opl actually made me cry. It's that good. Opal is a preteen girl struggling with her weight. She starts spelling her name "Opl" to shrink her name since she cannot seem to shrink her body. Opal uses food to mask her feelings. Her father died and her mother is busy trying to start a new business. Her mother is concerned with Opal's weight, but in all the wrong ways. She buys her diet foods, and skinny jeans, leaves her not-so-encouraging notes in the pantry, and encourages her to start a blog about her journey.  Even the school cafeteria is transforming their lunches into healthier options.  Opal is not at all pleased and starts the blog.  The snarkiness in her blog posts are hilarious.  Her blog becomes an overnight success and Opal begins to gain a little self confidence.  In the meantime, Opal upsets her best friend Summer because of her negativity toward Alfie Adam, the "nude chef" who is leading the charge towards the lunch changes.  In an effort to improve her health and win back her best friend, Opal starts cooking and making healthier food choices.  Her transformation is not only on the outside, but also on the inside, as she makes friends with a homeless man and offers him work in exchange for her food in order to help her mother with the new business.  Opal's transformation eventually brings about change for her whole family.  Her mother sees the error of her ways when dealing with Opal and it is all very touching.  Hence, the tears.  

I loved so much about this book.  I love that it addresses food issues, emotional eating, and the hard transition to making healthier choices.  Opal's attitude was exactly as you expect any person making these changes, but her snarkiness in it all made it entertaining.  The book wasn't preachy but young people could learn a lot from Opal's journey.  Opal's mother had the best of intentions, but it didn't come across that way to Opal.  While I bring a mother's perspective to my reading, it was also very clear to see Opal's side as well.  As my children get older, it will be important to remember how my words will affect them, good intentions or not.

There is so much more I could say about this book, but I really think everyone needs to read it for themselves!  Reader Rach gives Dear Opl 5/5 stars.