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The Downside of Being Charlie

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  331 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Charlie is handed a crappy senior year. Despite losing thirty pounds over the summer, he still gets called “Chunks” Grisner. What’s worse, he has to share a locker with the biggest Lord of the Rings freak his school has ever seen. He also can’t figure out whether Charlotte VanderKleaton, the beautiful strawberry lip-glossed new girl, likes him the way he likes her. Oh, and ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Running Press Kids
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28th out of 93 books — 234 voters
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Community Reviews

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Feb 09, 2012 Gina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
Wow!! There aren't a lot of books that make me cry, but THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE by Jenny Torres Sanchez did just that. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this raw and powerful book about a teenage boy who has just lost weight at summer "fat camp" and is trying to navigate through dire family issues, messy school politics and the flirty new girl who doesn't know why the kids at school call him "Chunks". Jenny Torres Sanchez absolutely nails the teenage voice, and her characters are fun ...more
Aug 23, 2012 Liviania rated it really liked it
Charlie Grisner used to be fat. But slimming down didn't solve his problems. His mother still runs away and his dad spends most of his time out of the house. He's only got one real friend and he has to share a locker with Tanya Bate, the girl everyone hates. He's really into Charlotte VanderKleaton, the new girl, but so is one of the school bullies.

I loved Charlie's voice. He's awkward in a very authentic way. He doesn't have good problem-solving skills because his parents have taught him to ru
May 23, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok

Charlie's been the fat boy forever but when he goes to fat camp for the summer and comes home having lost weight, he wants to go after Charlotte, the new girl who he thought he had no chance with before. In addition to that stress is the stress of mom who is far from being sane. She and Charlie's father are on again and off again and now they're off again and she's flying off the deep end.

I didn't buy the voice in this story, and it read very young for me. Charlie didn't sound like an 18 y
Mar 12, 2012 Ms.Gaye rated it really liked it
An upside of being a children’s librarian is the opportunity to read Advanced Reading Copies of books yet to be published. Although most of my reading is focused on the grade-school set, I squeeze in worthy adult and teen titles as often as possible. When a Running Press editor introduced me to the delightful new author Jenny Torrez Sanchez, and offered me an ARC of The Downside of Being Charlie, I knew this was a teen title I had to fit into my reading schedule. Wow! Sanchez captivated me from ...more
Sarvenaz Tash
May 15, 2012 Sarvenaz Tash rated it it was amazing
In a lot of ways, THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE is unlike anything I have ever read. It's Charlie Grisner's senior year and he has just returned from a summer away at fat camp, skinnier and determined to finally make this his year. There's a quirky best friend, a beautiful new girl, a school prank that could go horribly wrong...the thing is, you may think you know where all this is going but you’d be wrong. The beauty of this story is how many unexpected twists and turns it takes and, most of al ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Jenelle rated it it was ok
I have very mixed feelings about this book.
There were some moments that really captured the reality of our thoughts and behaviors, and I found that really relatable. While it was enough to gain my interest it wasn't enough to keep it.
As other people have stated in their reviews, the characters seemed so much younger than 18. First of all, nobody had a job. I can not think of a single character other than the adults that had a job. I felt like I couldn't really envision the characters in my mind
Aug 15, 2012 Suzi rated it really liked it
This book was only so-so until about midway through. It seemed kind of silly and a little shallow, but then when Charlie's family problems really start to show, that's when I got interested. I began to feel for Charlie, to empathize. I started connecting with other characters as well. The ending made my eyes tear up a little. Pretty good book with a nice ending.
Mar 24, 2013 Nurulhazira rated it really liked it
"I see how shutting yourself up in a tiny compartment can suffocate you. I see how bottling everything up and stuffing it down can weigh you down. I see how sometimes you need complete darkness to see things you couldn't or didn't want to see before. I realize that sometimes what's real isn't pretty, but what's pretty isn't always real."
Marcie Taylor
Feb 25, 2012 Marcie Taylor rated it it was amazing
This book is scheduled for release in June 2012. It is the heartbreaking and sublime story of a teenage boy-on-the-verge with an eating disorder among his many problems. It could be a sappy-after-school-type special on TV but it's more than that. It is REAL. Can't wait to read the author's next novel.
Bilal Ally
Feb 18, 2015 Bilal Ally rated it did not like it
Shelves: hard-copies
Nothing in this book seems sincere, it seems as the author can’t relate to anything any of the characters are going through. Everything is so stereotypical and generic. Characters are weak and stupid. Book is poorly written as well, seems like she thought teenage years is all about: weight, sex, swearing and hating on your parents.
I would not recommend anyone to read this book, even if by some chance there is a person as troubled and unlucky as Charlie in the real world, and can relate to this
Brittany Smith
May 09, 2014 Brittany Smith rated it liked it
I gave this book four stars because I think it genuinely deserved it. I do agree that it was a bit of a slow start to really get into the story but once it hit a certain point I couldn't help myself from putting off things I needed to be doing to see what would happen next.
I found when looking over others reviews after I had read the book that many that rated the book under 3 or 4 starts often used the comment, "Charlie is supposed to be 18 and yet he is acting much younger". Personally I didn'
Feb 23, 2013 Kristina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-goal-90
Rating the Downside of Being Charlie five stars was a very personal thing for me. It is not very often that a book feels personal. Sure, you can read and enjoy a book, and even love the characters and feel like they are friends, but Charlie was a friend, he was one of my best friends.

This book pulled me right back into high school and all the pain and uncertainty associated with it, and Charlie was exactly the kind of guy who was my best friend in Jr. High and High School. We were all on the ou
Lenore Appelhans
[...] sometimes what's real isn't pretty and what's pretty isn't always real." This line is one of the last lines in the novel, but I wanted to kick-off with it because it encapsulates what this novel is to me. Charlie's a budding photographer, and at the outset, he judges people and situations mainly on appearances. He thinks that just because he lost thirty pounds at summer camp, people are going to view him differently and he'll have a good year, maybe even catch the attention of pretty new g ...more
Aug 11, 2012 Gary rated it really liked it
So......I think I kind of underestimated this book in the beginning.

It eventually turned out to be quite a fleshy novel as my reading progressed towards the middle.

Not to mention it being a very heartfelt and honest story told from the point of Charlie, an 18-year-old with plenty of first-world problems.

The Story:

After being persuaded to go to fat camp, Charlie Grisner lost 30 pounds over the summer and is ready to start his senior year at high school. On the surface, everything seems to be goin
Aug 27, 2012 Sandy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite, library, ya
10 stars!! Oh, to be Charlie. Charlie thought his senior year was his year to shine, his year to be noticed for what he really was, as he was tired of being Chunks. Chunks, the fat kid, the kid who never had a girlfriend, the kid people made fun of but this year turns out to be the year Charlie figures out there is more to life than just looks. His best buddy Ahmed tries to give Charlie the confidence he needs but Charlie needs more than confidence to get through the issues that are coming his w ...more
Jennifer Haight
Oct 17, 2012 Jennifer Haight rated it really liked it
Charlie isn’t your typical YA protagonist. He struggles with his weight, to the point that he develops bulimia. He doesn’t excel socially, in sports or any other way at school until he discovers photography. Charlie’s life is atypical in many ways. He’s an only child with an emotionally damaged Mom who leaves and returns on a whim and a father who is embroiled in an affair. Throughout the novel Charlie is not only tending to his own needs, but he is also trying to predict the mood of his parents ...more
May 14, 2012 Beth rated it it was amazing
Jenny Torres Sanchez's debut novel is fantastic. Her protagonist, Charlie Grisner, is hurting-- and his parents are too wrapped up in themselves to notice. His dad's having an affair and his mom seems trapped in mental illness. Charlie's attracted to Charlotte-- but afraid if she knows the real him, she'll run the other way. His parents are sending him the message that he's unworthy, and he's believing it. Charlie's trying to hold on to a 30 pound weight loss (achieved after his dad sent him to ...more
Aug 10, 2012 Karissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I read this for my YA Book Club, and I still have mixed feelings about it. Many in the club enjoyed it, one utterly hated it, and I still feel just in the middle. It's a good story about a boy who used to be overweight dealing with life in general.

Charlie's dad sent him away to fat camp before his senior year of high school, and he actually participated and lost all of the weight. Though it sounds like he did so for Charlotte, the girl who moved down the street which is sort of stupid. Do it fo
Jul 22, 2013 Maggie rated it really liked it
This was kind of a strange book for me in that it wasn't terribly compelling, but I still really liked it. It took me a couple of starts to really get into it, but in the end, it was worth it.

Charlie has high hopes for his senior year - he lost about 30 pounds over the summer, the girl he likes may actually like him back, and his photography class looks like it may be the highlight of not only his school day but his whole year. Then...he is handed the biggest "Lord of the Rings freak" in school
Leslie (That Chick That Reads)
First off I want to thank Seta Zink for an ARC copy of this book. Can I just say how much I loved this book! Its def something totally different than some of the stuff I've been reading lately. Charlie is not our typical MC. He struggles with his weight, isn’t confident and always gets bullied but this is his year. He doesn’t want to be known as that kid anymore. He loses weight and he thought that it would change everything but it doesn’t.

Charlie is such a great character. He’s shy and honest.
Aug 25, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I wish I knew how to start this review more effectively, but the one word that keeps weighing on my mind is simply this: heavy. I went into The Downside of Being Charlie expecting to laugh. Maybe giggle a bit over Charlie's confused adolescent life. What I didn't expect, however, was to fall into a period of deep thought. To cry. Or for that matter, to find inspirational quotes that stuck with me even hours later. It's not everyday that a book somehow manages to make me laugh and cry in equal me ...more
Aug 14, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing
This book had me in tears! I absolutely loved this book. It had so much honesty and truth in it, I never read a book with that much. Charlie's life was upside down, and the way he handled it is, is a way a teenager his age would've handled it, and I'm glad the author wrote this book the way that it is written. I loved how Charlie dealt with the friendzone, and slowly got over it. It was sort of... crappy that Charlie had issues with him and his need to throw up every time he ate something and th ...more
Andi (Andi's ABCs)
Sep 11, 2012 Andi (Andi's ABCs) rated it liked it
Shelves: own
The Downside of Charlie was a book that fell into my lap to read and review. I had never heard of it until a request to read it came in. Reading the description I was quick to say yes. Sounded like a solid concept by a debut author. And I must say although it was slow at times I really enjoyed it and I’m glad I got the request.

The Downside of Being Charlie is the story of well, Charlie, a high school senior that has been anything but poplar this whole life. His best friend thinks he is the secon
Jun 10, 2012 Precious rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Originally posted at Fragments of Life.

Charlie Grisner had just lost a whooping thirty pounds after staying at Fat Camp last summer. He was obese, unconfident and down. He had suffered from the piercing stares, the labeling and the harsh and disgusted whispers. But with his weight loss, came the pressure of maintaining his weight and forgetting about his huge appetite. But it wasn’t easy to do when every healthy low-fat meal felt like a sacrifice and temptations were everywhere. I liked Charlie.
Dec 03, 2012 Rabiah rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, arc
Originally posted at:

What a great contemporary! The Downside of Being Charlie was funny, but unlike several funny contemporaries, it had a heavier edge to it– it had a brilliant emotional depth. I really enjoyed the fact that this was from a guy's POV. You rarely do get books, contemporaries nonetheless, which feature a guy as the main character (other than John Green's books). The plot was powerful, you could really see the characters develop from start
Amber Skye
Sep 30, 2012 Amber Skye rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-review, arc
Despite this book's 268 page length, it took me weeks to read. For some reason, the thought of watching TV or sleeping always appealed to me more than pulling The Downside of Being Charlie out. That's never a good sign. So, I finally sat down over the weekend and forced myself to finish it. Even after an hour of being immersed in the story, I still couldn't make myself like the characters or the plot.

Honestly, I think the biggest problem was Charlie. I cannot relate to him at all. It's not just
Dec 27, 2012 Renee rated it liked it
Fat Camp- where Charlie spent his summer- not the best experience but he did lose 30 lbs- maybe finally he’ll lose his nicknames Chunk- Chunky-Chubs- and people will start calling him Charlie
Dog Crap- what Charlie finds in his locker on the first day of his senior year of high school – Why?- because he has to share a locker with the most despised and bullied person in his class –frizzy haired LOTR lovin’ -Tanya Bart – also what Charlie feels like when he gets home from fat camp and realizes that
Jun 30, 2013 Lena rated it it was amazing
I was a little skeptical picking up this book, but I couldn't be happier that I actually read it. The thing I really appreciated about The Downside of Being Charlie was it showed the struggles of a teenage boy. So often you read novels and see things on the news about girls and their struggle with eating disorders and their weight. It sometimes seems that society just assumes boys don't go through those struggles, when as a matter of fact, they do.

From the beginning I was pulled in by Charlie's
Jan 27, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
What are the downsides to being Charlie? His best (only?) friend is a skinny, ADD Turk obsessed with the Rat Pack, he's 5'10" and weighs 235 (and no, he's not on the football team), and his mother disappears every so often. That's not enough? He's just spent the summer between junior and senior year at a fat camp, a very cute girl has moved in across the street, and he's sharing a locker with the class pariah.

As he goes through the first semester of his senior year he starts to come out of his
July Rahly
Aug 17, 2015 July Rahly rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This was a fast read for me, as I finished it in a few hours. I enjoyed reading the struggles that Charlie goes through, and it showed me how difficulties and tensions with parents can affect their children. It was also interesting to read about how he doesn't fit into to one particular group, and he befriends the girl who everyone avoids because she doesn't fit in, either. Overall, a great book for someone going through struggles at home.
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