I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Paula Danzinger was another staple author of my early adolescence. She doesn't hold a candle to Judy Blume for emotional or moral/ethical depth, but she still wrote a number of compellingly readable titles filled with humor and a realistic amount of angst.
Marcy is in ninth grade and she's shy, has no self-esteem - although lots of pragmatism - and a pretty lousy home life. The first three lines of the book run:
"I hate my father. I hate school. I hate being fat."
Her father is verbally abusive and not at all subtle about it.
She hates school because she's bored. She's intelligent and not at all challenged, until Ms. Finney comes along and teaches English in a whole new way.
She's fat and she's opting to completely fail gym because there's no way she's changing and showing in front of the other girls. She has a running list of hilarious excuses for why she doesn't dress out for gym each day (hence the title of the book).
These three themes are woven into a story that's basically about peace, love and understanding. It is so a book of its time (early 70's), but it's also funny and empowering. Through Ms. Finney's teaching Marcy makes new friends and they all learn the importance of standing up for what they believe in.
At 119 pages, this book is short. As a result, it tackles these themes only shallowly and a lot of people aren't going to like the whole fat angle. But for me, it had nostalgia going for it and I liked that Danzinger didn't have Marcy going on diets or crazy exercise plans; Marcy just starts opting out of the junk food and ice cream. At the end of the book (which doesn't end all that satisfactorily btw), Marcy's still "fat" but the reader is left with the idea that she's making positive changes regardless of whether she'll get a smaller waist or not.