Lara is the envy of the girls at Forest Hill High School, and why not? She’s beautiful, her family has money, and she can eat whatever she likes without gaining a pound. She glows as homecoming queen. But when Lara breaks out in hives, she takes a medication that causes her to gain weight. Horrified that she has gained ten pounds in a month, Lara stops taking her medicine. The hives come back. Lara’s perfect life turns into a nightmare as her weight soars over two hundred pounds. Everything changes.
Life in the Fat Lane was published in 1998, but it’s message of thin-is-in is even more true today. In 1998, no one was worrying about a “thigh gap.” But Lara’s feelings as she goes from pretty/popular to lonely and laughed at still ring true today.
The title of the book is a play on “Life in the Fast Lane,” a song by the rock group Eagles. It’s included in their 1976 album, Hotel California. Add that title song plus another track, “New Kid in Town,” and a timeworn theme emerges: Not all that glitters in LA is gold.
The connection between a book that examines the fragile allure of body shape and a song that peels away the glamour of Hollywood is stronger than it first appears. Here’s the music:
-Diane Colson, currently reading The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey.