Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book Review: The Very First Bite

By Jami Deise

Do you start every new year with a resolution to lose weight? Does that Lay’s potato chip “you can’t have just one” commercial speak to you personally? Does bad news send you right to sugary carbohydrates? Then curl up and spend some time with Lanie Albers, whose goal to lose 20 pounds by her high school reunion is tested by continual romantic upheavals that send her straight to the kitchen.

Lanie, the heroine of Cynthia Langston’s novel, The Very First Bite, is horrified the day she gets on the scale and sees the numbers 155 staring back at her. How did her life get so out of control? Maybe it has something to do with her non-boyfriend, Mark, who refuses to use the b-word or make a weekly date for anything. Or maybe she’s still hurting over being dumped by her best friend Candace, who abruptly disappeared on her seven years ago and never returned any calls. Or maybe she’s still hung up on high school/college boyfriend Chad, who may or may not be getting divorced.

When Lanie gets her invitation to her 15-year reunion, she realizes she has to confront all her problems. But her weight is the biggest one. Vowing to lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks, Lanie embarks on a series of bad diets – Atkins, NutriSystem, etc. – but her issues with Mark keep her bingeing. Will Lanie ever get her eating under control and lose the weight? Will Mark ever call Lanie his girlfriend? Will Lanie ever find out why Candace dumped her? Author Langston answers these and other questions in an emotionally satisfying way.

The Very First Bite is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Langston expertly weaves together the varied subplots of her story, always keeping the focus on how Lanie’s feelings drive her actions. Lanie is an extremely relatable heroine, loving food, hating exercise, and completely at a loss at the best way to handle the non-boyfriend she loves. I also appreciated how Langston showed that losing a best friend can hurt just as much and for just as long as losing a lover.

Other than one slightly annoying coincidence at the end, Langston does a masterful job bringing everything together the night of the reunion. She avoids the usual clichés about why best friends break up, adding a twist that is subtly communicated throughout the book.

And as enjoyable the book is, another benefit of reading it is that it helps keep you on the straight and narrow with your own diet. Reading about another person’s binges – no matter how tasty she makes the pizza, donuts, and cheeseburgers sound – are a fabulous way to keep one’s own appetites in check.

The Very First Bite, a self-published novel, demonstrates how good independent authors can be. I plan on reading Langston’s first book, Bicoastal Babe, and look forward to her future work.

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Connie said...

This book sounds adorable! I think we’ve all been faced with those “incredible” numbers when we look at the scale. (I hate to weigh myself!) I’m looking forward to seeing how the heroine of this story handles her “incredible” numbers and what she does about them.

Thanks for sharing this great review.

Anonymous said...

I've read both this book and her other book (Bi-coastal Babe) -- Cynthia is such a funny writer -- she honestly keeps me laughing the whole book. And while funny -- so many truths that all women face. I highly recommend this author as well. Thanks for blogging about an author who should be better known and who should write more!!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous book. Great review. Helped me think about my own weight! In a healthy way!