Less is More
A book review for parents
This contemporary fiction book is the third in the "Real TV" series by Wendy Lawton and is published by Moody Publishers.
Less is More is written for kids ages 13 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Abby Lewis gains 30 pounds after her father's premature death by heart attack. When she moves with her mother from Suwanee, Georgia to San Francisco to live with her grandmother, she is reluctant to make new friends because of her appearance. Damien, the youth group leader at their new church, nicknames her Flabster. Abby's prayers for weight-loss help are answered when Parker, a school football player who is physically fit, and Isabella, the daughter of a nutritionist, befriend her. Coach Matthews, her female P.E. instructor and a youth group sponsor, encourage her, also. Coach Matthews gets Abby on as a contestant for the reality TV show Less is More since a teen losing weight with help from her friends appeals to the show's producers. Abby attains her weight goal; plus, Isabella goes from being a nonbeliever to becoming a Christian by seeing Abby's faith in God sustain her through grief and weight-loss challenges. Damien stops using nicknames when his youth pastor tells him it's wrong. He also sees just how hurtful nicknames are by watching himself on the show and apologizes to the youth group members. Isabella begins going to the youth group after she finds out that Damien's nicknames are a thing of the past.
Abby is a Christian. She prays and quotes Bible verses to Isabella, a nonbeliever. Abby and Parker pray together. Abby doesn't understand why her dad died but leans on her faith in God and his plan for her life to comfort her. She grows in faith as she shares her beliefs with Isabella, who begins reading the Bible and looking for answers. Isabella brings up questions about how to live out the Christian faith when she questions Damien's use of nicknames at youth group.
Coach Matthews is the strongest role model in Abby's life. She discusses Christian beliefs with Abby and Isabella, prays with the girls and advises Abby not to artificially bring up she's a Christian on the show, unless it comes up naturally. At youth group, Pastor Doug reads a passage about the importance God places on names, indirectly letting Abby know her nickname of Flabster is not good for her. Abby's mom and grandmother are Christians and her mother helps her by sharing her own grief and acknowledging the challenges the cross-country move has caused for them both. Abby's grandmother changes her meals to making healthy foods to help Abby's weight loss.
Other Belief Systems
Isabella is not a Christian. She is searching and sometimes uses the slang of the day, like "drawing on your higher power." Coach Matthews tells Isabella that the phrase is part of a New-Age belief.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- When Abby first meets Isabella, Abby feels at a loss to explain some elements of her Christian faith.
How prepared are you to witness to nonbelievers?
What things could you do to be better prepared?
- Which of Isabella's comments make her sound like she is a Christian?
What does Coach Matthews explain to Isabella and Abby about Christianity vs. Isabella's words?
How have you challenged others to think through what they believe as Coach did?
How can being familiar with the Bible help you do this?
- How does Abby feel she looks?
Why should Christians take good care of their bodies?
- What did Damien nickname others?
Have you ever had a nickname?
Was it complimentary or derogatory?
Have you ever taken a nickname too far?
What were the consequences?
- Why does Abby feel she'll fail?
What does Isabella point out?
What do the girls do as their secret weapon in the weight-loss plan?
Do you ever use this secret weapon?
How can you make prayer more a part of your life?
- How does Coach Matthews play a major role in helping Abby witness to Isabella?
Who is an adult who can help you in your witness to friends?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.