(How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head)

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For all the noise our culture makes about fat and thin and health and perfect bodies, Jen Larsen’s voice rises above the clamor, disarming and funny but unflinching, too. Combining stark honesty with generosity of spirit, this story of loss and recovery is like no other.”
—Wendy McClure, columnist for BUST Magazine and author of The Wilder Life

“An arresting memoir about the author’s experience with weight–loss surgery.

Larsen initially lied to her mother about the nature of her surgery and didn’t tell her the truth until well after the procedure. She admits that her librarian co–workers ‘probably knew more than I did’ about the risks and potential complications, and she spread the first payment across three credit cards. When a doctor reprimanded her for gaining, rather than losing, weight before the surgery date, Larsen asked, ‘If I don’t lose the weight, can you still operate?’ She smoked and drank heavily. After her painful recovery, she ‘ate whatever I could fit inside me, and suffered for it, and lost weight anyway.’ In the hands of a lesser writer, all of these facts could lead readers to feel judgment or disgust. Instead, Larsen’s honesty and insight make for a searing account of precisely what it feels like to be fat and to have complicated relationships with food, family and friends. We understand exactly why one would look to surgery as a solution to not only excess weight, but also fear, loneliness and unhappiness. Larsen eventually lost the weight, and she also moved on from her dead–end job and her bad relationship. But though her life is measurably better, she still reels from the shock that self–acceptance did not come automatically: ‘You lose weight without having to develop self–awareness, self–control, a sense of self. In fact, you go ahead and you lose your sense of self.’

Raw vulnerability and rigorous emotional honesty make this weight–loss memoir compelling and memorable.” —Kirkus Reviews

4 stars: People Magazine

People Review


“Does thin really equal happy? Jen Larsen had a job, a guy and loving friends, but her Holy Grail was being skinny. So when she tipped the scales at 308 pounds in 2006, she opted for weight loss surgery, which cost $56,000 and proved to be no panacea. Eating too much afterward made her violently ill, and her life (specifically her commitment-phobic boyfriend) didn’t change as she dreamed it would.

Eventually slimming down to 168 pounds, she found it easier to breathe and walk, but the Land of Eternal Slimness where problems did not exist,” she learned, is a myth: It’s personality, not body type, that opens doors to fulfillment.

Honest, brave and sparklingly funny, Larsen’s memoir reminds us that one size doesn’t–and shouldn’t–fit all.” —PEOPLE

About the Author

Jen Larsen is a writer living in Minneapolis. In 2006, she underwent weight loss surgery and lost almost 200 pounds. Almost ten years later, she’s still trying to figure out what that means in terms of health and body acceptance, but feels lucky to have experienced the full spectrum of weight and size issues on either end of the scale.

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Read an Excerpt | Press


See the book trailer, animated and directed by Molly McIntyre.

Stranger Here book trailer

4 Replies to “STRANGER HERE”

  1. I read this book yesterday…I could not put it down! I wish it had been around years ago but today is as good as any to try and think differently about how a number on a scale doesn’t define who I am. Never was really considered “fat” except in my own head, now just pressing forward to be happy with who I am, how I am and hopefully can pass that on to my daughter. Thanks for the book, the honesty and sharing your experience.

  2. I had gastric sleeve in Aug 2012. I am losing weight averaging 10 lbs a month. One would think……that is good! Keep it up, right? The doctors all tell you how to succeed, keep your nutricion up, etc. Still to this day, I can not get a full length mirror. I can not view myself in seeing what I truly look like. No one ever warned me, prepared me or even offered ways of how to battle this problem. Yes, the surgery was great. Yes, I am losing weight. Yes, my doctor wss the best doctor anyone could ask for. BUT, my mind has been psychologically screwed up since. There are many things that I could do before being 308lbs. But I am unable to do it now. I am soooo thankful she wrote this book! It shows what surgery is truly like. The good, the bad…..and the ugly parts!

  3. I am trying to get this messaage to jen larsen if possible. I only have a pphone to tyope on sorry about mistakes. People in mmy town petoskey michigan emmeety co. Thousands got wrr
    weight lloss surgery hundreds ssickk and dying. Am wtiting newsppaper article. Can yoou help us coommments. Wee are giviing oregano oil lemon
    water stevia citrus savving thheir lives. 5, 10, 20 years after sur

  4. This is well written! With insight and self-honesty she tell her story. This is raw and it’s real! A must read!

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