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Literature / Life In The Fat Lane

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Life in the Fat Lane is a young adult novel, written by Cherie Bennett.

Lara Adeche's life is perfect. She has perfect parents, a perfect boyfriend, perfect grades, a perfect figure, and she's about to be crowned Homecoming Queen. She prides herself on being a perfect Beauty Queen, inside and out, and is always careful to maintain a sweet and positive attitude towards life.

But then Lara starts to rapidly gain weight, and her perfect world is shattered. Her parents are disgusted with her, and insist that it's something she should be able to control, despite the fact Lara is still gaining weight despite exercising and near starving herself. Her perfect life continues to unravel as her former friends make fun of her behind her back, and while her boyfriend remains loyal, Lara drives him away with her own self loathing.


Things go from bad to worse when Lara ends up fatter than the Fat Girl she used to look down on. She's eventually diagnosed with 'Axell-Crowne' syndrome, a rare disorder that is causing her weight gain. There's no known cure, and her doctor can only vaguely suggest that she might lose the weight eventually.

Life in the Fat Lane has the following tropes;

  • Abusive Parents: While not initially physically abusive, Lara's parents are emotionally manipulative and start putting her down once she stops being their 'perfect Princess'
    • Carol brutally informs Lara of how fat she's gotten, and tells her that she's no longer beautiful; all the while fishing for compliments about her own slender figure.
    • Jim initially dotes on his daughter when she is thin, calling her his Princess. However when she gains weight he ignores her, only speaks to her to ask how the diet is going.
    • After Jim is caught cheating, Carol goads Lara into snapping at her, then backhands her for doing just that.
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  • Adults Are Useless: Lara's parents are extremely unsupportive at Lara's fall from grace, and insist that it's all her own fault, despite the evidence that suggests otherwise.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jennie Smith is underhanded and sneaky; Allegra Royalton is outright vicious. Allegra's friend Willow, while not openly nasty, concern-trolls Lara about her weight and insists that Allegra is "not that bad" seconds after hearing her call Lara an "ugly pig."
  • Archnemesis Dad: Jim has a stormy relationship with his son, Scott. It turns out It's because Scott caught Jim cheating with the woman he would eventually leave his wife for, and lost all respect for his father as a result. Once Lara learns of the affair and it becomes evident Jim does not intend to end it, she also all but disowns her father. Scott even declares that when he grows up, he's determined to be a better man than his father.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Suzanne, Lara is surprised at how pretty she is, despite her weight.
    • Also, Lara, from almost everyone's perspective except her own (and her parents').
  • Big Handsome Man: Perry, from almost everyone's perspective except Lara's. (And regarding that last: sucks to be him. By the end of the book he gives up on Lara and starts dating a girl named Crystal, who has a gigantic crush on him.)
  • Chubby Chaser: Suzanne's boyfriend, Tristan. Suzanne explains that although they love each other, she won't marry him, because she can't be sure his love for her is genuine.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Molly. It's how she got her nickname, "The Mouth."
  • Driven to Suicide: At more than one point in the book, Lara loses her will to live, and in one scene fantasizes about what it might be like to kill herself with an overdose of pills. Although Lara doesn't attempt suicide, her mother does in exactly this way, swallowing an overdose of Valium with wine. Fortunately her children find her in time and she survives.
  • Fat and Skinny: Molly and Lara, until the latter starts to gain weight.
  • Fat Best Friend: Molly is this to Lara, though they somewhat swap roles after Lara gains weight.
  • Fat Bitch: Lara becomes nastier as she gains weight, and insists that her personality is changing to match her now 'monstrous' appearance. However it's hinted that Lara has always had a nastier streak, she was just careful to conceal her real feelings when fulfilling her 'beauty queen' role. This shows through with her conversation with Patty Asher in the girls' room.
    • Patty Asher mocks Lara for her weight gain, and even claims that she wished it would happen. While it's somewhat justified given how Patty has been treated for being fat, she's still needlessly cruel.
      • Patty even states that although Lara was never outright cruel to her, she resented Lara's treatment of her more than that of the kids who actually did say mean things to her, and that's why she feels compelled to Kick the Dog now.
    • Lara's best friend, Molly, chews Lara out at one point for not sticking up for her more whenever Molly was taunted by Lara's former friends. She also admits to feeling a certain sense of satisfaction when Lara started gaining weight; however, she regrets these feelings when she sees how Lara's life is falling apart and never stops being Lara's friend.
  • Fat Girl: Patty Asher is the fattest girl at Lara's high school.
    • Molly counts to some extent, but she's described as being more chubby than fat.
    • Lara herself after gaining weight.
  • Fat Slob: Lara sees other fat people as being this, and looks down on them for "letting themselves go."
  • Formerly Fit: Lara. Partially subverted, as she is still, despite her weight gain, otherwise healthy and continues to exercise and diet religiously - at one point she remarks that she must be the fittest 218-pound girl in her state. This naturally makes no difference to many of her peers, as they don't care why she's fat; they only care that she is fat.
  • Idiot Ball: Lara's parents just won't accept that Lara isn't at fault for her rapid weight gain, even if her snacking and binging isn't helping. Lara ends up gaining over 100lbs in less than a year, whether she binges or starves herself. It still takes them a long time to accept it's a medical condition that she can't exactly help.
  • Ironic Echo: At the prom, Lara tries to encourage Patty Asher to exercise, telling Patty she has a pretty face and could be a knockout if she'd only lose weight. Lara doesn't think she's being insensitive, but Patty angrily rejects the advice and storms away. Later, a now-obese Lara has virtually the same conversation with a homecoming queen nominee named Jane, although now it's Jane (apparently not buying Lara's explanation about her disease) encouraging Lara to exercise.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Lara's classmate Dave, based on the pronunciation of her last name, tags her with the nickname "Lardass" and harasses her every chance he gets.
    • Patty Asher is referred to as "Fatty Patty" by her classmates.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Perry, thanks to malicious rumor-mongering from "Mainstream Dave" about his friendship with a gay boy.
  • Must Have Nicotine: Lara's mother Carol smokes, and graduates to chain-smoking as her marriage deteriorates. Lara's "friend" Lisa quit smoking but took it up again after she gained two pounds.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Lara and her family leave their Nashville home to move to the fictional upscale Detroit suburb of Blooming Woods, which is likely a stand-in for the real-life upscale Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. She also attends a private school called Cranfield for a short time, which is likely a stand-in for the real-life Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills.
  • Not So Above It All: Lara's younger brother, Scott. He's disgusted with his family for emphasizing outward appearance over everything else, and even after Lara starts gaining weight, he tries to reassure his sister that she's fine as she is. But once Lara balloons to over 200 pounds, he is embarrassed by her appearance, even taking old photos of her to school to prove to those who would bully Lara that she used to be a beauty queen (which, if anything, makes everything worse). It's more insensitivity than outright cruelty, but it still hurts, as Lara had thought Scott was in her corner.
    • Lara's boyfriend Jett counts as well. He's the eccentric, artistic type who pooh-poohs the popular kids, but it turns out he's not as blind to appearances as one might think. He's too nice to come out and tell Lara he isn't attracted to her anymore, and despite his insistence that he still loves Lara the same, Lara sees through his front and breaks up with him.
  • Post-Stress Overeating: Doctors initially suggest that this is what Lara is suffering from. Lara does start to stress eat as a result of putting on weight, but it's not the underlying cause of her rapid weight gain.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lara delivers one to her mother after she learns that her father has been having an affair with a coworker for three years, and berates Carol for the way she acts around Jim, calling Carol disgusting and pathetic. This earns her an Armor-Piercing Slap from her mother.
  • Sad Clown: Molly is something of this as well as Deadpan Snarker. Whenever kids tease her, she uses humor to hide her hurt. Lara is the only person she admits this to, which is ironic as Lara is responsible for some of Molly's torment.
  • The Unfavorite: Molly is the Unfavorite in Lara's group of friends at the beginning of the story. Lisa and Amber only put up with Molly because of Lara and constantly say mean things behind Molly's back, and Lara's attempts to stick up for Molly are halfhearted at most. Molly calls Lara out for this later in the story, though she never stops being her friend.
  • Weight Woe: The premise of the novel is based around Lara's horrified reaction to gaining weight.
    • Molly also complains about her weight, but enjoys her food too much to do anything about it. By contrast, the other overweight characters in the book - Perry, Suzanne, and Cleo - no longer angst about their figures and have learned to accept themselves as they are.

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