Author C.D. Shelton highlights America’s obesity culture through the lens of 20-year-old William Bobbitt, an overweight college student who is determined to make a healthy change through diet and exercise.
William “Billy Bob” Bobbitt is a 6’2, 303-pound football player on his junior college football team and is self-conscious about his weight. With a Body Mass Index of 39, Billy Bob is medically obese. Deciding to make a change, he joins his friend Tommy and attends a weight control clinic. He also starts riding mountain bikes with Tommy on a regular basis, with the goal of losing weight. As he works toward his goals, he continues to attend the weight control seminars, writes a term paper about obesity in America for school, and falls for a health-conscious cheerleader.
C.D. Shelton is a professor of biology as well as a writer, and his deep scientific knowledge is evident throughout Grinder Hill. Each lecture Billy Bob attends at the weight loss clinic is recorded in great detail on topics ranging from multivitamins to “who is responsible for the health crisis in America.” Although the topics are important, the scenes at the clinic read like complicated textbook passages instead of dialogue and slow the narrative pacing to a crawl. Several times, the dialogue is portrayed in bullet points, intensifying the textbook feel.
Billy Bob is an uncomplicated character who meets no resistance in the pursuit of his goals. Although problems arise in the plot—his friend is in a bicycling accident and a bully attempts to frame Billy Bob as a cheater—none of the problems seem to affect or hinder Billy Bob in any way. This lack of tension deprives him of engaging character growth.
Ultimately, the poor characterization coupled with the long textbook-like passages and heavy-handed message on obesity in America hamper the story. As a result, it will have limited appeal for general readers.