Fat Boy Swim

On the surface of it this looked like a good book. Jimmy, the central figure, is a very overweight young man who has to deal with his size and all the attendant problems that this brings to his life. The book is cleverly conceived – chapters are grouped into what looks like a menu: starters, main courses and desserts.

The story starts with good intentions, the author getting right under the skin of the main character and managing to describe the awfulness of his life at the hands of the school bullies. But it then goes into overkill; crisis after crisis is heaped on the hapless Jimmy, who has now taken up swimming and not only manages to lose a huge amount of weight in a very short time, get a girlfriend, defeat the bullies and become a champion swimmer but finds out that his mother is really his grandmother and if that is not enough his favourite Aunt Pol is in fact his mother!

It was all this heaping of misfortune on Jimmy which made this book a little hard to take. And this is a shame. Had the author held back on some of these episodes and given Jimmy a chance to be ‘real’, she could have created a more credible narrative. As it is there is a mad rush at the end to get all the loose ends tied up and some resolution to the various dilemmas posed for Jimmy.