Fat Girl on a Plane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

This was a book that was many things at once- serious in its subject matter, funny, relationship-focused, and inspiring to read.  "Fat Girl on a Plane" tells the story of Cookie Vonn, an overweight senior in high school who is an aspiring fashion designer, who after being embarrassed on a plane to New York to interview one of her favorite designers, decides to lose weight.  Told back-and-forth between the "fat" Cookie and the "skinny" Cookie, however, it is so much more.  It is about the relationships that Cookie has with her best friend, who she has to compete with for his attention from her nemesis in school; her mother, a famous model who has never really taken to motherhood; her grandmother, who raised her when Cookie's own mother didn't; and her lover, Gareth when she is "skinny" Cookie, and who also happens to be a fashion designer that she has always aspired to be like.  It is also a story showing a look at the cut-throat fashion industry, and most importantly, a story of a girl who chooses to follow her dreams, despite hitting a number of battles along the way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed having Cookie take us throughout her story. I loved how it was told in alternating time periods to give the readers the whole story throughout the book. It is nice to have big girls represented in the book too and have them represented in modern books in a positive light too.
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I received an early release copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I heard several raves about this book and let me tell you, the book didn't disappoint. As you meet the main character Cookie you get a glimpse at reality for plus sized women and their struggles at fashion and life but Cookie is set to help change the ways! It was a very heartfelt read that emerses you in from chapter one.

4 out of 5 stars.
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I admit I have issues with this title. I do not mind books that have the fat girl/thin girl story, I do mind books that are told in a before and after type style,  and I do mind books that have a relationship between a young adult (who is JUST an adult) with a much older man. Put them all together and I hate it. I felt like this story was going in different directions and trying to hit on a lot of big topics but not doing it well. My biggest issue with this story was the romance.  I would have like the character to be a little older if bring in a romance or just make the romance more….believable. Time and again I just did not feel anything really happening there and the age difference was not the issue. Overall, I did not really enjoy this title and I would be hard press to suggest it.
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When Cookie Vonn - a 17-year-old blogger and fashionista - is forced to buy a second seat on a plane because she's too fat she knows that life is not going to be easy from this point forward (as if it was before!).

Cookie's story is told in two distinct timelines - her fat life, and her skinny life. Regardless of her weight, she's smart, sassy, confident, and passionate about letting the world know that "roundish" women deserve to be fashion forward too!

A nice story for teens that reinforces the message that who you are is not tied to how you look.
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I want to say the thing this book does best is give this 360 degree look at the way the world treats people based on their weight. The truth is, it does an amazing job at exposing these sometimes ugly truths, but the writing and the characters are also pretty spectacular.

Cookie is a strong woman. She’s competent, capable, and talented. But she’s not perfect. Wounded by prejudices she’s experienced, she allows herself to judge others based on the same system she abhors being applied to herself. Ultimately she learns that achieving her weight goal doesn’t change everything in the way she expected. Turns out being skinny isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.

I want to say so many things that would spoil the story because they were elements or plot moments that I thought were fantastic. Early on we’re told this isn’t a Cinderella story about a girl who loses weight and lives happily ever after, and it’s true—this is not that story. It’s much more about a girl looking for the path to her best self and her best life. That journey changes her inside even more than it changes her outside. And perhaps above all, that’s the story’s real power.

You know me—I wish Fat Girl on a Plane didn’t have some of the sexual stuff or profanity in it that it does, because those simply aren’t the things I enjoy reading. See the content information below for more details. I thought the characters and story were powerful and nicely done, though.
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I Loved this book and I think it would be a good read for young adults/teens!  Well written.  Many lessons to learn and overcome. Wish the ending would have been a little different but still a good read!
*I received an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion* #WTBReviews
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I think this book is beautiful.  A few disclaimers...I’m not a huge fashion girl.  So designer names went over my head.  I’d have probably loved the book more if I knew some of the ins and outs of fashion.  Second, the way the chapters were titled of various days, Fat, Skinny...working forward and backward was downright confusing at first.  With both of that being said, I still gave the book five stars.  My advice just keep reading, it will make sense. 
So this book was amazing and more of a coming of age, coming to terms with yourself and with life.  I adored Cookie and I want to be friends with her.  Initially I was annoyed with her relationship but it all made sense in the end and I love that it both was and was not a HEA.  I think if you’ve ever struggled with weight this book will speak to you on so many levels.  And if you haven’t, getting an inside glimpse of what it feels like might be eye opening.  Adored this book, highly recommend!
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To say that I was disappointed in this book would be a huge understatement. What started off with a great premise and the hope of being a champion for body positivity turned turned into a cringe-y, ill-paced, trope-ridden, should-not-have-been-YA mess.

Mean, I know. But, the letdown of this book was meaner (at least to me).

In Fat Girl on a Plane, Cookie Vonn's story is told in two alternating timelines-- one where she's "fat" and the other where she's "skinny." During "fat," seventeen-year-old Cookie is motivated to loose weight after the trauma of being told that she's too fat to fly to New York in one seat on the plane and must buy a second seat with money that she doesn't have. To make matters worse, cue the mean girl trope, where a girl her age calls Cookies "cankles" and then proceeds to conveniently show up for the rest of the novel to ruin everything about Cookie's life. Meanwhile, during "skinny," it's two years later and Cookie is at her goal weight after dieting with a Weight Watchers knock-off and now looks like the younger version of her supermodel mother. Trying to make a name for herself as a designer in the fashion industry, Cookie is thrust into a world the only reason that people stare at her on the airplane now is because she's beautiful.

I did try really hard to like Fat Girl on a Plane. In fact, I actually kind of enjoyed the "fat" timeline, where Cookie balances her fashion and weight goals while dealing with family drama and the usual scenario of being in love with her best friend who is in love with the mean girl arch-nemesis. Cookie's heartbreak and struggles felt very real and sincere, despite the tiredness of her attitude towards everyone else.

It's the "skinny" timeline that throws a wrench in this novel. It's here where Cookie, a now annoying character who is bitter towards everyone, quickly gets together with a thirty-five year old, who is also her fashion design idol. This is where you totally loose the Young Adult part of the novel and it starts reading like one of those e-book romances that you can get for free on the Kindle. I'm usually okay with age differences between characters, but when it's fifteen years, supposed to be a teen novel, and the guy refers to himself as "Uncle Gary" when speaking to his nineteen-year-old girlfriend, it gets a little weird. I mean, I'm twenty-four and the thought of dating a thirty-five-year-old makes me go ew. 

The reason that this novel is getting two stars from me is because it pulls through at the end. Despite the roller coaster of weird and flat characters behaving randomly, Cookie does learn to love herself, fat or skinny, and that's what we came here for, right?

2/5 Stars.

I received a free e-ARC of Fat Girl on a Plane from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos is an OK book about Cookie Vonn, an overweight women who loses weight.  The book goes back and forth from when she was overweight to after the weight loss.  Cookie is the daughter of a famous model, and she compares how she was treated before and after.  I did not enjoy this book, people can be so cruel, and judgmental. 

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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On the advice of a friend who read this book, I can no longer read Fat Girl on a Plane due to a combination of its fatphobic message/themes and my own fight with disordered eating. Reading the novel would almost certainly trigger me and cause me harm.
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**spoiler alert**

Just a head’s up, this review contains spoilers. I normally try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, but in this instance I couldn’t explain my concerns without including them. 

I have been putting off this review for a couple weeks now because I have some concerns about the contents of this book. On a positive note, I found the book a fun and entertaining read. The negatives, however, outweighed the positives in my opinion.

The author’s note claims that this book is not the usual “Cinderella weight loss story”, but I have to disagree. The story is told in alternating timelines. In one timeline, Cookie is fat, broke, and miserable. Almost every bad thing that happens to her happens because she is fat. She is forced to buy a second seat on an airplane because the flight attendant thinks she is too big to fit in one seat. She gets publicly humiliated by a “mean girl” and then that same girl (who’s skinny, of course) ends up being her boss’s daughter and gets picked over her for an exclusive interview with a fashion icon she idolizes. She gets sent to fat camp. No-one is ever romantically interested in her because of her weight. She even has a major falling-out with her best friend because she refuses to let his skinny girlfriend call her “cankles” or otherwise bully her about her weight and he thinks she’s being unreasonable.

In the second timeline, Cookie has lost a huge amount of weight thanks to NutriNation, a paid diet program. She is now hot, and of course, everything is magically better. In a chance encounter, she runs into an important person from NutriNation and he is so impressed by her weight loss that he decides to generously sponsor her blog, temporarily solving all of her financial problems. She gets a second chance at interviewing the same fashion icon that wouldn’t even agree to meet with her when she was fat and he ends up partnering up with her for an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He also starts dating her and basically treats her to the lifestyle of the rich and famous: taking her to exclusive fashion shows, living in a penthouse, and traveling the world in luxury. This guy is a total jerk who hates fat people and is only interested in her because she’s skinny now. And, of course, he’s on a first-name basis with the Dean of the design school she really wanted to go to, so not only can he get her in, but it’s assumed that he will pay her way. Even her (ex?) best friend admits he was secretly in love with her. In essence, the “skinny” timeline is just one good thing after another, and throughout it, the reader is constantly reminded of how gorgeous Cookie is now and how almost everyone she meets is attracted to her.

Which brings me to another point… This book implies that no-one is interested in fat people and that only skinny people can be the victim of sexual harassment. In fact, after one very unsettling scene between Cookie and her stepfather (in which he kept ogling her body and making inappropriate innuendos), she says “Situations like this have been one of the hardest things about losing weight. My body changed, and suddenly I became a player in this game where people are trying to get sex or approval or whatever from each other.” Umm… wow. But no. That “game” applies to everyone, not just skinny people. Sexual harassment is very much a problem for fat people as well as skinny people. People of all shapes and sizes can (and do!) get harassed. And plenty of fat people are in serious relationships, enjoy consensual sex, and even get married!

Ultimately, Cookie does end up learning how to love herself regardless of her weight. However, there’s nothing in this story that would help self-conscious young women learn the same lesson. The underlying message that this book sends, intentional or not, is that fat girls are miserable and getting skinny makes everything better. As a mother of an impressional young girl, I cannot in good conscience recommend this book. Was it entertaining? Certainly. But also very disappointing and potentially even harmful.
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I loved this book for the first 30% or so. But, then it just got messy and I had quite a few issues with it. 

I hated the relationship between Cookie and Gareth. I know it was not supposed to be healthy but the power imbalance and the fact that he was such a jerk to her in the beginning grossed me out. Also, the age difference? If this was NA or an adult book it wouldn't have bothered me as much, but she is 19 and I am pretty sure he is 31? Gross. 

I loved the fashion aspect of the novel, Cookie has great taste and I would have loved to see her designs. I loved her advisor and the fact that her grandmother sewed as well. The dual timelines were a bit confusing at first and I don't know if it helped the story in any way, but it was unique and I would be interested to see more of this type of storytelling in the future. 

The plot was messy. So much happens in the beginning, then suddenly nothing happens in the middle, and then a much more plot is thrown in at the end. There is also too much going on. Cookie has issues with both her parents, her stepfather, one of her best friends, and a mean girl from her hometown. Not to mention the small fight with her BFF and the relationship with Gareth. It was just a lot. Also, her issues with her parents are not resolved at all. 

Overall, I appreciated the message of inner vs outer beauty and discussion of the lack of plus sized women in the fashion industry, but the story had too many other plot lines (plus the dual timeline) which detracted from the main takeaway of the novel.
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This fashion forward book featured a plus-size teenager struggling with her self-worth. It was absolutely captivating until the main character started making disappointing decisions for a book that should've been solely focused on woman empowerment.

Our main character, Cookie, faced a lot of struggles growing up and still had an incredible personality despite it all. She was able to stand up for herself, take control of her health, and focus on her career path which was so admirable. Unfortunately, she was often a bit too judgmental in the fashion department when it came to working-class citizens and also made poor choices that threw all her morals away.

There was an unhealthy romance at the center of this book which was not at all needed. Why couldn’t this have been a story about a strong girl taking control of her life and becoming successful at a young age? The unrealistic opportunities and actions that were tied to this relationship made the book feel extremely fictional when it could have offered so much to a very large audience otherwise.

Additionally, the writing felt very disjointed since a lot of small details were completely left out. There would be so much detail about Cookie getting ready but then all of a sudden she was in the middle of dinner without any transition. The book also ended without any real resolution to the main issues throughout the story which left me extremely unsatisfied. This combined with everything else forces me to say I sadly wasn't a fan of this debut.
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Thank you Kelly deVos for writing a book like this. The climate for women is evolving and we are finally starting to stop hating ourselves & bodies. I appreciate books like this because in the end, they make me feel like "I do matter" at any shape/size that I am. I personally gained a lot of weight after having surgery and I can see the entire world around me change to the point where someone asked if I was pregnant. Totally, not cool. Cookie is such a relatable character, her story hit home for me, It was a very raw and real story indeed. I hope people read this book and see how words can hurt, false assumptions can create depression and/or anxiety, and people can feel worthless. I question myself everyday and because of books like this, I am learning to accept myself and showcase my strengths rather than let the world/society dictate my life. Thank you for this unique view into this world Kelly, it speaks on so many levels. Thank you, Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an e-copy arc of this lovely book.
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An awesome quick summer read. I liked the alternating chapters between fat cookie and skinny cookie.
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This book, man oh man! I related to this book way more than I thought was possible. As someone who is a bigger girl and loves fashion this hits home. I love how deVos creates the comparing timeline in this story of Cookie being Plus sized and then when she lost weight and becomes a smaller women. She jumped story lines so seemlessly, and this book is so beautifully written. I love the sarcastic remarks Cookie gives, she isn't afraid to stick up for what or who she believes in. If you have a chance to pick up this unique read highly recommend it. Definetely one of my favorites of this entire year. Also, I finished it in one day because I simpily couldn't put it down.
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*Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC to review!*
Fat Girl on a Plane is the story of Cookie Vonn, told in two separate timelines--"fat" and "skinny." Cookie's voice drew in me into the story very quickly, and I really enjoyed her sense of humor, bluntness, and intelligence. This book does a wonderful job of deconstructing stereotypes about weight and fatness while still telling an engaging story. The plot line with Gareth was profoundly uncomfortable to me, but deVos showed the power imbalance with nuance. That being said, I did find myself losing interest in the plot towards the middle of the book and had to slog to finish, but overall this book had so much voice it was easy to get back into it once the story picked up again later.
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I didn’t enjoy the back and forth with the timeline. I would have much preferred to stick with the main plot line in the present. I was annoyed with Cookie throughout as she has her own opinions and desires but would submit to others when it came down to it. I appreciated the body positivity and how Cookie called our fat jokes. I wish she was better at standing up for herself and not just for others. I wish the ending were more developed.
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I had to quit this novel at only 18% in because of the stark hypocrisy in the writing. The author's bio on her website says, "Kelly is also a passionate advocate for body positivity and fat acceptance" and I am one hundred percent onboard with that, yet the main character in the novel seems to engage in a high level of what might be termed 'skinny-shaming' and also 'fashion-shaming'. Worse than this though, is the objectification by this character of another character, as in when I read, "I glance at his biceps and quickly look away." Her "face heats up" no less than three times over him, and she decides it's not fair that he should look so good. Barf.

These are some of many examples of fashion blogger Cookie Vonn objectifying fashion designer Gareth Miller, who she's supposed to be objectively interviewing. In her author's note, I read, "We are more than just our bodies," yet her main character is ogling this man's body. Body image is not a just two-way street, it's a rat's nest of streets and footpaths and bike trails and overpasses, and for me this author failed to grasp that crucial fact in her writing.

Cookie works for a fashion blog, and I should say right up front that I have no time whatsoever for the fashion world or for Hollywood for that matter. As this author admirably makes clear, fashion is about discrimination, but she doesn't go far enough. It discriminates in favor of the well-off, the young, and the thin, so the problems go way beyond simply fat-shaming. Again, none of this was made clear at least in the early part of this novel, and I was saddened by that because the whole reason I picked it to read was that I thought it would be in interesting take on the industry.

The main character seems to grasp none of this. She comes off very much as an insider: as one of 'them,' not as one of 'us', by which I mean those of us who are not slaves to how a person 'should' look or dress according to the dictates of the shamefully well-off. This did not service the book's PoV well and did not make her look like an outsider by any means. On the one hand it's admirable that this character thinks she can change it from the inside, but on the other hand, she never seems to be cognizant of how self-indulgent, fatuous, and pointless the whole farcical, shallow and abusive edifice of fashion truly is, so I felt like she was doomed to fail before she got started.

I especially wouldn't read a blog where I would see something like this: "Sportswear is where fashion meets Feminism." Really? Has this author never seen a female athlete? Depending on the sport, they don't typically dress in a manner similar to the male athletes. They quite often dress in a manner that too many men would like to see female athletes dress. In track, men typically wear regular running shorts and tank tops. Women wear what are, let's face it, bikinis. That's feminism? Really? If the bikini makes an athlete more streamlined, why don't men wear them? This dichotomy on what male versus female athletes wear is very odd in sports. Female basketball players, for example, wear pretty much what the men do, yet female soccer players wear their shorts distinctly shorter than their male counterparts. Why? Is it really feminism? I think that's a question worth asking in place of tossing out a bon mot like I read here.

Cookie is the daughter of a well-known model of yesteryear (or given that this is the fleeting world of modeling and fashion, perhaps yester-week would be more accurate), and looks like her mom facially, but not bodily. This wasn't explained in the admittedly limited portion I could stand to read. Was her father big bodied? If not, and her mother was a model, then how did Cookie end up with her body? Maybe it was explained in the course of the tennis-match of past and present being knocked back and confusingly forth later in the novel, but it would have been nice if there had been an explanation up front for this.

I'm evidently not the only reviewer who found this see-sawing between 'fat' Cookie and relatively thin Cookie serving to undermine the author's stated purpose. And if that is cookie on the cover of the book, she's not what I'd describe as fat by any means. But then my perspective on a women's body isn't informed by unhealthily-thin fashion models and Hollywood celebrities. It's informed by real, everyday people which is the only sane perspective in my opinion.

The other thing that was missing for me was any talk about health. There is abusive fat-shaming, which is to be fought tooth and nail, but there is also a health factor here for a certain portion of the population (overweight or not), and it's not a shaming, but a caring. It doesn't matter (objectively) if people consider you overweight as long as you're healthily and getting some exercise, yet this wasn't touched on. Again, I quit this novel early, so maybe this was addressed later, but even so, it would have been nice had there been a statement right up front about this, because it's important. People can go to hell with their fat remarks and abuses, but if a person is healthy, it's not even a concern, so maybe they should go further to hell?

The author is a graduate of a creative writing program, which frankly tends to put me off reading a novel, because I've read too many such novels which have turned out to be so bland as to be indistinguishable from one another, and all-too-often pretentious to a sickening degree. This author had some moments of excellence and some appreciated humor, but what got to me, and this is what caused me to finally quit the book, was that it was so disgustingly trope YA that it was almost literally nauseating. Take this as an example:
"It's your eyes," he decides. "They're blue."
"Wow. They're not wrong when they say how observant you are."
Gareth chuckles. "The gold flecks. They make all the difference."
Gold flecks make her eyes pretty? I feel bad for the millions of women who have no gold flecks! How awfully ugly they must be with those fleckless eyes! Body positivity? I have read this 'gold flecks' quote so many times in so many YA books that it is way beyond a joke at this point. If this is all you get when you graduate from a creative writing course more than likely taught by someone who can't make a living from their own writing then it's a self-evident waste of time. Do they not teach originality? Do they not teach participants to read a lot so they can learn both what to do and what not to do? No self-respecting YA author who wants to be taken seriously should use the words 'gold flecks' or even 'biceps' in a novel ever again, but at least this author wrote 'biceps' rather than 'bicep' so I should credit her that much!

On one technical matter, I have to give this ebook file an 'f':
Piper f lips open
I f lop back onto
In the space of a couple of sentences and in many other places too, we see words which begin with an 'f' having a space after them. Amazon's Kindle process mangles files. It's an all-too-common feature of the ebook review copies I see. It does not well-handle files that are anything other than plain vanilla with regard to formatting. I suspect that's what happened here. Additionally, there was a confused mix up of notes and text:
There's nothing wrong with being the fat girl on the plane. soScottsdale [[New Post>Title: We're SoReady for an Early Look at GM Creator: Cookie Vonn [contributor] Okay Scottsdale,
"remember Fairy Falls?" FAT GIRL ON A PLANE 31 I snort. Of course I do."
The book title and page number from the page header is embedded in the text there. The impression I had was that this book was designed for a print version without a thought being given to how the ebook looked. I know ebooks often sell at rock-bottom prices thanks to Amazon, which seems to share the public's view that books ought to be valued by weight, not quality, and ebooks, being the lightest of all should be also the cheapest of all. It evidently also likes its overseas contract workers to get rock-bottom pay, but that doesn't mean readers want rock-bottom quality! Another example is that conversations which should have been separated by a line feed and a carriage return are run together on one line: "What kind of questions?" he says, his eyes narrowing. "I plan to have them ready for you on Sunday at 2:00 p.m."
Hopefully those issues will be resolved before this book hits final publication.
Final there's the cover and the book blurb. These are not on the author (unless they self-publish and design their own covers), but they don't help a book when they're profoundly dumb. The blurb is predictably idiotic, as far too many of them are. I have no time for book blurbs that end with a question so numbingly dumb that only a complete, utter, and lifelong dedicated moron could not get the right answer: "Will she realize that she's always had the power to make her own dreams come true?"

Now just what, I wonder, is the answer to that question? Do book publishers want us to think they believe readers are idiots? Because that's what they do when they ask brain-dead questions like that in the blurb and far too many books, especially ones aimed at female readers it would seem, do this. Do publishers think female readers are dumber than male readers? I sure don't, but maybe the only way to prove that would be for women to boycott all books where the blurb asks a dumb question at the end?!

I don't normally talk about book covers, except on occasion to point out how, as is the case here, the cover designer clearly has no clue what's in the novel - or is simply clueless period. The silhouetted girl on the cover isn't remotely fat. She's not even what might be uncharitably called "big boned" - she's normal and ordinary - that is, she looks at first glance to be a healthy height and weight (healthy that is by realistic standards not by asinine anorexic standards of Hollywood and the fashion industry). So is this supposed to be Cookie after she lost weight, and why do we see only that rather than both, or just the Cookie of the past? Doesn't this make the book's very cover a form of fat-shaming?

I wish the author all the best with her writing career, but it's for the reasons outlined that I cannot recommend this book.
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