The Cat Ate My Gymsuit (1974) is a novel written by Paula Danziger. The plot follows Marcy Lewis, an overweight teen with acne problems. She has a verbally abusive father and it seems her parents are always fighting. Her dad doesn't make her feel good about herself. At school, she is an outcast. She only has one friend. At first, she was only Nancy's friend because her mother told her to be. Later on, she grew to like Nancy as a good friend, but Nancy became popular. She was still friends with Marcy, but they didn't talk as much anymore since Marcy was not popular at all. Marcy would sometimes get jealous of her.
Along with classmates at school, they have driven away their English teacher only to have her replaced by Ms. Finney, a new teacher with a non-traditional teaching style. After the class starts responding to their teacher for the first time, they quickly grow to admire her; she teaches them about what's important in life, and Marcy starts feeling good about herself. They even start an after-school club called Smedley. They talk about good books and things like that. Through this club, Marcy meets a lot of new friends. She even meets a boy who seems to be attracted to her. He is really nice too. His father works with the Board of Education. Then one day, the principal comes to observe Ms. Finney. She teaches the material well, but the same teaching techniques that work for the kids by Ms. Finney are abhorred by the school administrators. Marcy and her friends suddenly find themselves coming to Ms. Finney’s defense when she is threatened with the loss of her job. Marcy even stands up to her father one day. Ms. Finney brings a legal case against her firing; once in court some of her students speak in her defense. Ms. Finney also brings up the legal case for refusing to say the school pledge of allegiance.The school board reluctantly reinstates her, but Ms. Finney, realizing that she would be going back into an impossible situation, immediately resigns. Marcy and her friends feel betrayed, but come to understand her reasons, as they eventually use her lessons as they move forward in life.
The most recent edition of the book has an afterward by Danziger explaining why she initially wrote the book and why it is still relevant today.
The title of the book comes from one of the many excuses Marcy offers to her gym teacher as ploys to get out of physical education classes.
Followed by There's a Bat in Bunk Five