by Tara St. Pierre
Published by CreateSpace
on May 31, 2015
Source: Thanks to the author for providing a copy for review after she won My Indie Inbox!
Synopsis from Goodreads: All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller. To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates. Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be. Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems—problems that are growing more terrifying every day. Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.
My take: Have you ever wanted to be just a few inches thinner? Wished there were a magic pill that would help you do that without sweating or deprivation? If your answer is yes, you'll relate to Carrie. She's a popular high school cheerleader with a doting boyfriend, but the problem with being a girl in the in-crowd is that you have to work very hard to stay there. Carrie wishes she were just a little thinner, especially since her boyfriend's ex is so very gorgeous and seems to be waiting for Carrie to slip up so she can get the chance to win him back. Carrie buys diet pills and, because the school dance is coming up and her new gown is a bit snug, takes more than the recommended dose. The pills help her fit into her red dress, but as the days go by, things start getting weirder and weirder...
At first, Just a Few Inches reminded me of the "what-if" paranormal-ish stories I loved growing up, wacky stories like Freebie Friday or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The premise of Just a Few Inches seems comic at first, but as the story develops, the book takes a more serious turn and doesn't shy away from the horrifying consequences of an impulsive mistake. I loved that - if you're going to do a plot like this, I think you really have to go for it. Carrie is a sympathetic, relatable character and her boyfriend and friends are supportive. I loved that her experience made her come to appreciate another character with whom she probably didn't think she had much in common before the whole diet-pill-fiasco. And I cheered the themes of positive body image and self-acceptance.
My only constructive criticism is that at times the main plotline didn't feel like quite enough. For me, the book could have used something else going on besides Carrie's reaction to the pills. Something else that the book was "about" on a deeper level. Freaky Friday, for example, is ostensibly about the body switch but, on a deeper level, about the strained relationship between Annabel and her mother (and the 2003 movie, which I think is actually even better than the original book, takes the relationship strain to another level by having her mother about to be remarried. It's a great movie about mother/daughter relationships if you haven't seen it.) So for me, Just a Few Inches could have used something like a mother-about-to-be-remarried subplot. Yes, it did have Carrie's insecurities and the ex-girlfriend lurking around, but I wanted just a tiny bit more.
Overall, this was a good read (and also a beautifully formatted and produced e-book) and I'll definitely keep an eye out for what Tara St. Pierre writes next!