"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

09 June 2014

Big Fat Disaster

Fehlbaum, Beth. Big Fat Disaster. Merit Press, 2014.

Colby's the odd man out in her picture-perfect family. Her older sister has a full-ride scholarship to college, her little sister is the cookie-cutter image of her mother, and her father is running for a seat in the senate. But when it is discovered that her father stole money from his campaign to fund his relationship with another woman, Colby's life falls apart. Colby, her mother, and her younger sister have to move into a trailer behind her aunt's house, and Colby's habit of drowning her feelings with food spirals out of control. When some bullies use YouTube to humiliate Colby, she has to decide whether she will continue to be the "big fat disaster" her mom calls her.

Wow. This book has a lot of issues all in one place. First, Colby's dad's infidelity and misuse of money - an issue which sets the story in motion but soon fades into the background. Second, Colby's mother is a mess. She is very similar to the other abusive moms so popular in young adult literature these days: deluded and controlling and obliviously cruel. Then we have Colby's aunt and cousin. Some football players at Colby's new school raped a girl at a party the year before, and her cousin reported them. Everyone at his school hates him for telling on the boys, and he hates Colby and her family because of the way they treated him afterwards [those passages really made me want to scream since they so perfectly echo the rape culture we're living in]. Then there's Colby. She's overweight and becoming more so because of her binge eating, which she does to hide from all the trauma around her. And she's bullied. So everything that she's dealing with really is a "big, fat disaster."

The thing I most appreciated about this story is that at the end, when Colby decided to take charge of her life and face her problems, the book didn't resolve with Colby losing a ton of weight and being accepted by everyone. In the end, she's still overweight, her mother is still evil and self-centered, and her dad is still facing prison charges, but Colby is owning up to her mess and acknowledging that she needs help.

Recommended for: teens, tweens
Red Flags: Colby attempts suicide twice, there is talk of the girl being raped the year before (with lots of victim-blaming thrown in); one of Colby's friends is bulimic and vomits in the school bathroom after lunch; language (in both English and Spanish)
Overall Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley for the purposes of review.

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