Rarely do I give a novel an outstanding review. Yes, many have had my seal of approval over the years but the ones that earn a notch above the rest happen once in a blue moon. Like this featured title, for example, penned by the duo team of Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza (THE KNOCKOFF). It was such a joy to read that a second go at it would have been more than welcomed had I not had to reduce my reading pile. FITNESS JUNKIE (Doubleday, 2017) tells the tale of a career woman who’s on a quest to find the magic solution that will give her back her girly figure. Not a simple task—of course—but at the hands of these two talented writers anything is possible.
The fun—or should we say the hardship—begins early on when gay bestie and longtime business partner of a couture wedding dress company urges 40 year-old Janey to take a leave of absence to slim down about 30 pounds (bad for business, he claims). Since the weight issue has been contracted (!) when they were in their ‘20s Janey realizes she has no choice. So in come a slew of fitness gimmicks that eventually do more harm than good. Aided by a college chum who’s just as obsessed with health and fitness as she is and a spin-instructor of a niece who has a mouth like a sailor, Janey will stop at nothing to regain her rightful place as CEO.
First and foremost let me say that the recipe for riveting reads is to always showcase a knockout of a protagonist, and in this novel, Janey is her. She is sympathetic, smart, resilient, kind, funny but most importantly relatable. Women of all sizes will see themselves in her. If not so much, then at least her crazy encounters with the human kind will make them grin from ear to ear and sometimes warm their heart. Because FITNESS JUNKIE is not always all fun and games (which are aplenty, trust me). There are also moments of sensitivity such as the scene where the heroine clearly sees that she’s no longer considered a muse in the eyes of her business partner or the one involving a group therapy session which almost moved me to tears with its message of hope after despair. I say almost, because I’m a mean S.O.B.
The real star of this novel, however, is the over-the-top fitness regimes that just can’t be real (according to the writers some are). From drinking clay to attending a Free the Nipple Yoga session, not to mention getting high on cactus juice, all are nuttier than the next. But the most important thing in FITNESS JUNKIE, besides giving the heroine not one but two male counterparts to coddle with, is the strong and effective narrative. Like last year’s THE KNOCKOFF the story breezes by like a summer wind and before you know it the end is near and your only wish is to go back in time and enjoy it all over again. Can’t wait to see what’s next in the horizon from these dynamic authors.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Until next post—Martin