Review: Lean Into It by Betty Balaba

Dealing with the illness of a loved one can be one of the most stressful situations a person can face. How to get through it without losing your mind and yourself in the process is something that Becca Johnson has to find out for herself.

A successful marketing manager with her stylish life mapped out ahead of her, Becca is blindsided by her mother’s sudden illness which requires a long stay in hospital. The pressure to keep up with a demanding job coupled with her desire to support her mother by all means cause Becca to turn to food for comfort. As a result she begins to gain weight rapidly losing sight of the person she once was and the person she wants to become.

This is a nice feel-good story with a fairy-tale touch – there’s an attractive surgeon at the hospital where Becca’s mother is, who is a potential love interest and there is the possibility of a new career, if only Becca can regain her confidence and take control of her life once more. In those moments it was a fun lighthearted read, which to be honest I really needed!

One of the things that really struck me reading Lean Into It, was the lack of boundaries Becca seemed to have. She’s constantly trying to please the people around her whether it’s her mother, her boss or her friends. There’s moment before Becca’s weight gain where her colleague insists on measuring her waist, (while they’re work) because she’s envious of how ‘tiny’ she is, and against her obvious embarrassment, Becca agrees.

Because of her lack of ability to push back when people are clearly encroaching on her time and personal space, it makes it all the more painful to see how she handles people’s attitude towards her when she gains weight. She begins to shrink inside, as though she believes she deserves the snide comments, and hides all the more, as tends to be expected of people who are overweight. She counteracts this by rewarding herself with sweet ‘treats’ creating a horrible circle of self-destruction.The topic of weight gain and loss can be a sensitive one to navigate, especially with so much being written about body positivity.

It’s easy to write this story off as being just about getting thin, and thus being accepted by those around you. But I think it’s more than that, and to rate it as such misses the point. If anything this novel is about the importance of keeping sight of yourself in the midst of trials, something that really resonated with me and I’m sure will resonate with others.

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