So I had this giant stack of well-respected adult literature that I was intending to read– and instead I gravitated toward teen stuff (and returned the adult stuff to the library). So much for faking like I’m fancy and grown up. Here goes:
45 Pounds (more or less) by KA Barson
So teenage Anne has been told that she is 45 pounds overweight, her (super skinny) mom is a total jerk about it, and as a result, she has a pretty big complex. Her lesbian (!) aunt’s wedding is in a few months and she wants to lost the weight so she can look thin in the ceremony, so she goes through some extreme measures to start– and ends up having to get a job to support these new measures, and meanwhile there’s a boy she likes and her little sister is starting to get emotionally distressed about something, and there’s a mean girl out to sabotage her…
Ultimately lots of the right lessons are taught, but I really wish the “happy ending” could have been made happy without the stereotypical things that it ended with. I kind of also wish that we’d gotten to know Anne a little better. BUT this teenage “problem novel” is still solidly multi-dimensional, entertaining, and interesting.
Find a copy here
Hot Girl by Dream Jordan
14 year old Kate’s had a tough life. She’s been bounced around group homes and foster families, is a former gang member and former pot smoker and all-around tough girl– but she finally had a good social worker, good grades, and an ok (but strict) family she lives with. But when her BFF goes away for the summer, she befriends Naleejah, a super-fancy girl who has tons of money and designer clothes– and sleeps with guys to get them. Naleejah gives Kate a makeover, and the kind of attention that she gets starts to change… Will she fall in too deep with her new friend and risk losing everything that she’s worked so hard to make stable in her life?
This is a decent YA novel. It features multiple characters’ complications and complexities, and is realistic in the sense that it doesn’t try too hard to clean up supporting characters’ messes. Kate is weird enough that we can actually believe that she’s a real person, and while some of the other characters might be jerky, they still elicit some empathy.
Find a copy here
Dude, where’s my sequel?
I grabbed a copy of this book off the shelf at work when I realized that I was facing a lunch break without something to read. It’s about a super creative and stylish 15.5 year old girl named Veronica who lied about her age to get a job as a consigner at CLOTHING BONANZA, which sells vintage and used clothing by the piece and the pound (she lives for vintage). Oh, and she’s fat and doesn’t really feel bad about it. Except for when she sometimes does, and it affects her family relationships, prospective friendships, and general worldly navigation.
So Veronica secures this cool job, and gets tangled into some major social messes mostly due to her age and insecurities, and then has to find a way out. Each chapter was prefaced with a drawing of one of the pieces of clothing described in it (Veronica draws clothing), and there’s something kind of unique to the writing style. You don’t get too deep into the lives of any one character (including the protagonist), but everyone is interesting and well-designed for their place in the story. LOTS of stuff happens in these brief 277 pages (that you’ll read in what feels like maybe 15 minutes), and some of it’s pretty intense.
LOTS of stuff happens, but it’s not really enough. At the end of the book Veronica is still growing and the story still feels like it’s developing. I want to know what happens next. Hence, “Dude, where’s my sequel?”
Get a copy at the library here!
So I was pretty excited for this biography to come out, and I was lucky to be at the top of the waiting list at my library. I snatched it off the holds shelf and read it in a day! Coal To Diamonds is co-written by Beth Ditto (a really powerful singer and performer) and Michelle Tea (a fairly brilliant writer)- two stars in the queer pop culture world.
Structurally, it’s a fairly typical famous person biography. Written in first person, it begins in Ditto’s childhood, travels through her coming of age as a queer punk singer, and sort of ends in the present as a successful performer (in the UK, at least– the US mainstream hasn’t really “gotten” The Gossip yet– though I think i heard one of the songs in the teen section at a Nordstrom store once).
Despite the convergence of two personalities who I totally like into a single book (omg, dreamboat combo), I feel lukewarm about it. The pacing was kind of uneven (childhood gets a LOT of weight, whereas interesting elements of adulthood are totally skimmed over), and it lacked a certain poetry and poignancy– two things that Tea is very capable of. The final product makes me feel like the 2 collaborators were far from BFF status by the time the book was done. It felt like a business deal being grudgingly fulfilled by two somewhat unwilling parties. I feel bad saying that! Because honestly, it’s not a bad book at all. You should read it if you’re a feminist or queer or like music or like being inspired. I just feel like it could have been more.
find a copy here
Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love, & Fashion
I really like feminist anthologies. This one was not an exception! Hot & Heavy contains a bunch of essays by a broad spectrum of people, who have a wide variety of takes on fatness in life as a girl/woman. The essays are a grand tie-dye of personal, political, sexy, academic, fun, and powerful. Though each essay does center on the theme of fatness, each expresses different angles and takes on it– so there’s not a narrow central agenda.
Paralleling how I feel about all anthologies that I read, I found some pieces to be stronger or more captivating than others– but none were bad reading (and who’s to say that you or someone else won’t love those particular pieces?). Also, the anthology is well balanced and assembled– nothing feels out of place.
Recommended for anyone with a body.
find a copy here