Today I'm super excited to have a great guest post to share with you written by author Shelley Sackier, but first lets talk a little bit about the book itself.
Title: Dear Opl
Author: Shelley Sackier
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
After two years of hiding beneath a sugar-laden junk food diet meant to soothe the bitter loss of her dad, thirteen-year old Opl Oppenheimer is told she's gained so much weight she's pre-diabetic and now must start weighing far more than she ever bargained for. There are three things that keep Opl busy during her eighth grade days: fighting the new “mock meat and healthy colon” cafeteria cooks, attempting to crush a celebrity chef’s reputation because he slings mud on any food that tastes good, and finding a pair of jeans that still fit. What she doesn’t count on is needing time to win back her best friend, illegally employing a penniless ex-rodeo clown, and solving the problems of teenagers who write in for advice on her blog. Finding room to fit everything in is proving as impossible as following her mom’s ridiculous diets. Only now, Opl has no choice. It’s do or die. How Opl determines what it is she's truly hungering for and how to fill herself and her world is the heart of this timely, contemporary novel.
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Shelley Sackier is an author and blogger who writes about the everyday ordinary grand slams and gruesome snafus in completing the Herculean task of raising two healthy human beings. Ultimately she hopes to impart the necessary knowledge of how to balance their checkbooks and pay their taxes. Here greatest hope is to discover that parallel universes are a reality, and that somewhere she is living a life where her children have agreed to occasionally make eye contact with her. They live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. You can read more of her work, illustrated by Robin Gott, at Peakperspective.com
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Food plays an important role in Opl’s life. How would you describe Opl’s relationship with food, and how it changes as the book progresses?
Sadly, I think Opl’s love/hate relationship to her food is not unique to the greater landscape of today. Many of us use food as a coping mechanism, as Opl does. She employs it as a device to reward and punish herself and to mollify the discomfort of emotions that have appeared as a part of her grieving process. Because her methods of muddling through heartache are either ignored or misinterpreted, she quickly moves into a downward spiral, reinforcing bad habits, convinced they are serving her.
When people begin to point out that her choices are negatively impacting her life, she again does what many of us do: digs in and grows stubborn. Change is hard, especially when, in the past, change brought misery. If you believe that the road ahead of you is rife with more of the same unhappiness, you tend to search for comfort anywhere you can find it. And food is something that people turn to a lot in times like those. It’s like eating the comfort equivalent of a giant, body-sized pillow.
Once Opl isn’t handling her issues on her own, once she has some guidance, her behavior begins to change. It certainly isn’t all at once, and she stumbles into plenty of potholes along the way. The shift in Opl is a simple one that grows from small moments of awareness. She has tiny “aha” moments that come to us usually through experience. Oftentimes those greatest shifts in our perspective happen when we fall down and skin our knees. A look back at what tripped us up can be the trigger to an eye-opening moment.
In the end, Opl changes how she looks at food, and that changes how she looks, but much more importantly, it changes how she feels. It’s a lesson that she learns ‘one bite at a time.’
I want to thank author Shelley Sackier and Sourcebooks for letting me be part of this fantastic tour.