Erin Fry’s debut novel, “Losing It,” has all the markings for a great novel. It will make you want to laugh, to cry, to cheer, and to get off the couch and just go for it. That’s what her main character, Bennett Robinson, really does for people. This underdog who is picked on by the bullies at school and embarrassed by the sweaty bellybutton circle that shows through his T-shirt decides that he really has nothing to lose when he tries out for the cross country team.
The drama starts with said bullybutton, a baseball game, and a call to 911. When something terrible happens to Bennett’s dad, he is forced to move out of the house where his memories of his mother, who died when he was five, are the strongest. Unfortunately, the only real family in the area that he can go to live with is his mom’s sister, Aunt Laura, and her family.
That realization kicks Bennett’s butt because
- Aunt Laura and his dad haven’t gotten along since Bennett’s mom died
- She’s not very nice to Bennett
- She acts fake and melodramatic, and that’s the last thing Bennett needs right now
Bennett would much rather go with his best friend’s family, who are fun and like him and feed him home-cooked Mexican meals, but they do have four kids and their grandma living with them, so going to stay with the Gomez family isn’t an option.
Unfortunately, it’s true.The only real family in the area is Aunt Laura’s family, and so Bennett goes to live with them, who make him eat whole-wheat everything and low-fat galore.This only serves to increase Bennett’s discomfort.There are no ding dongs!There are no candy bars!Nothing from Bennett’s old life exists here, and his dad isn’t getting any better.
This Get Bennett Healthy campaign isn’t really rocking Bennett’s world, and his happy balloon is definitely toast when Aunt Laura suggests he, overweight and unfit, goes for a morning jog with ultraenergized Uncle Jim.His death stare to both of them doesn’t get him out of the activity, but he resigns himself to it and walks.It’s the pep talks with Uncle Jim, who is pretty normal compared to Aunt Laura, that inspires him to take a stand, even if it is with his own weight issues.
In the end, Bennett becomes his own hero.He steps up to cross country tryouts, waiting for the fat jokes, but they never come.He finds a team and support, and he finds a way to deal with his dad’s situation.While he doesn’t love Ding Dongs any less, and he doesn’t love whole-wheat low-fat pancakes any more, he does know is that it is okay to finish last because it means he didn’t quit.
Fry’s story of Bennett Robinson in “Losing It” will inspire any reader who wants to make a change.Her writing style is clear and engaging and will make you want to cheer for this underdog.