I WAS A 15-YEAR-OLD BLIMP by Patti Stren (Harper & Row: $11.95; 185 pp., ages 10 to 14). The title will surely hook teen girls, since most of them fret about body beautiful, as does the narrator Gabby Finklestein. She lives in New York City with her family and, as you can gather, is fat.
The author portrays quite realistically the anguish suffered by those who don't match the in-crowd, and what it's like to comfort yourself by gulping cheesecake, pot roast, cookies, ice cream, whipped cream, pizza and a milkshake, all within minutes. Gabby learns from her skinny friend how to rid herself of calories with laxatives and vomiting, then as a true bulimic, she becomes addicted to the binge-purge cycle.
When her parents realize her weight loss is not from Dr. Baber's 1,500-calorie diet, they send her to Camp Blossom. She hates her counselor Bunny's guts because she's "a perfect size five." But what doesn't ring true is why Bunny waits nearly eight weeks to say that she, too, was once fat and bulimic, especially since this camp is specifically for those with eating disorders. Also, Gabby continues all summer to vomit after meals, which Bunny suspects, but no one intervenes. Why? It's pointed out earlier that bulimics can die from electrolyte imbalance and malnutrition, so the camp pranks seem forced. Pages of hostile humor could have been eliminated.