Victoria Dawson can't help but feel out of place in her family, especially living in a city as glamorous and body-conscious as Los Angeles. Her father, Jim, is tall and slender, and Victoria's mother, Christina, is a fine-boned, dark-haired beauty. By comparison, Victoria was a chubby little girl with blonde hair, blue eyes, and rather ordinary looks. Needless to say, both her parents were intensely critical, outspoken, and noticeably disappointed by their daughter's ordinary appearance.
When Victoria was six years old, she saw a picture of Queen Victoria, and her father told her that she looked just like her. After the birth of Victoria's perfect little sister Grace, her father liked to refer to his firstborn as "our little tester cake". With the birth of Gracie, everyone agreed that Jim and Christina definitely did something right.
As hard as she tries, Victoria just can't seem to win the battle against her weight: as a young adult, she is still overly plump, and has an awful sweet tooth. While her parents and sister can eat anything they want and not gain an ounce, Victoria must watch everything she eats. She quietly endures her father's belittling comments about her body and watches her various academic achievements go unacknowledged by her family. Ice cream and oversized helpings of all the wrong foods may give Victoria some comfort, but only for a few moments.
The only thing Victoria knows is that she must get away from home, and so, after going to college in Chicago, she moves to New York City. Landing her dream job as a high school teacher, Victoria feels like she has finally found her niche: she absolutely loves working with her students and continues to wage a determined war on her weight at the gym. When Grace announces her engagement to a man who is an exact replica of their father, Victoria worries about her sister's future happiness. However, with no man of her own, Victoria can't help but feel like she is a failure once again.
Returning home to attend Grace's wedding, Victoria finds that not much has changed in her absence. Despite the continued tension with her parents, Victoria and Grace have always been close; and although the sisters could not look more different, they love each other unconditionally. Yet regardless of Victoria's many accomplishments, her parents attitudes toward her still haven't changed: they know just what to say to bring her down. She will always be her father's "big girl," and her mother's constant disapproval is equally as unkind.
Victoria has spent a lifetime trying to forget the numerous little occasions of thoughtlessness and cruelty - the various incidents of hurt and neglect perpetrated on her by her parents. But she has finally reached the point of no return; the point where even ice cream can no longer dull the pain. As the wedding draws near, a chance encounter, a deeply upsetting betrayal, and a family confrontation all lead to an unavoidable turning point for Victoria. She faces a tough challenge as she goes ahead in her life, as well as a difficult personal risk: to accept herself as she is, celebrate it, and eventually to claim the victories she has fought so hard for and deserves.
To be perfectly honest, this story was a little bit of a let down for me. I found it to be slightly repetitive and somewhat disappointing, although it was still a fairly enjoyable story - certainly Danielle Steel's typical writing style. This was fast-paced and easy reading for me, but overall it wasn't her most riveting storyline. I had to give this book a B+!
Very real life story. Nothing over the top or outlandish. This book was like talking with a wounded sister or friend.
I really enjoyed this book! It is much more of a chick lit style than what she usually writes and completely relateable, especially if you've ever been considered a "big girl".