Good: Woohoo, a queer POC MC! Eating disorders => multiple body types! No slut-shaming!
Meh: The voice - I just couldn't buy it.3.5 stars, really.
Good: Woohoo, a queer POC MC! Eating disorders => multiple body types! No slut-shaming!
Meh: The voice - I just couldn't buy it. Side characters fell flat, esp the sister and mom (so much potential there). The Mean Girls trope. BLECH. Flat mean girl characters is straight up lazy writing and/or lazy thinking. This is bothering me more and more as I sit with it. The cover - yes, at least it's not whitewashed? But with so much focus on Etta's body, it would be nice if the cover model were even a little bit round.
Aw!! I wasn't a huge fan of the voice (/writing style) here, as it got tiresome after a little while. But it had some darn cute moments! Loved the SUPAw!! I wasn't a huge fan of the voice (/writing style) here, as it got tiresome after a little while. But it had some darn cute moments! Loved the SUPER fat-pos character and storyline, loved all the random queers showing up all over the place, loved the silly cozy plotline and sleuthing.
I picked this up because my partner and I had totally gotten a kick out of the the Miss Fisher Mysteries on Netflix, so Kerry Greenwood was on my radar and on the shelves at my library. Not sure if I'll read the Phryne Fisher books or not, but if anybody ever made this Corinna Chapman series into a TV series, I would be ALL OVER THAT. ...more
GROSS. I've never actually read any of the Big Nate books before this, despite (or perhaps because) of the fact that they go like hotcakes in my libraGROSS. I've never actually read any of the Big Nate books before this, despite (or perhaps because) of the fact that they go like hotcakes in my library. My coworker read this as part of her SRP prize booktalking stash and reported back that Nate was "kind of a douche." True story. I just read the whole thing and I'm feeling... honestly, kind of queasy.
This book feels like such a bizarre throwback, a basically nonstop* festival of unquestioning misogyny. I read this during the same week of the Elliot Rodger shooting and the subsequent #yesallwomen response, and honestly, that sense of entitlement to women's bodies/attention... it's all right here. Part of me is holding back and wondering if I'm "oversensitive" or "taking it too seriously," which is a bullshit way to keep valid criticism down, and then the rest of me is still horrified, especially because these are marketed SUPER young. Much younger than the Wimpy Kid books, which (while they have their problems) are much less problematic than this.
Anyway, librarians and teachers, it's worth reading these before booktalking or recommending them.
*I went through and made a quick count: out of ~115 strips, 52 centered around a joke about girls or women's bodies (fat jokes, comics = cleavage jokes, hook-up jokes, crush jokes). 63 were another type of joke, including a couple of actually funny ones about font size, lawnmowing, and sudoku....more
I wish I could give this FIVE MILLION STARS. I liked basically everything about it.
I purchased this one the day it came out, but was saving it for thI wish I could give this FIVE MILLION STARS. I liked basically everything about it.
I purchased this one the day it came out, but was saving it for the right time. (Apparently this was after a long day of reference + 76 kids at Lego Club library program + 36 at Reading with Dogs library program. I got home, picked it up, and couldn't put it down until I was finished.) Anticipation is such a double-edged sword, though - my expectations were so high that it was hard not to be disappointed. But, oh, I was not disappointed! Here are all the things I loved:
- Jane. Badass! Smart! Loud! Fat! Imperfect! Uncertain and certain at the same time. Wonderful. And she basically... doesn't change. She learns and grows (sure) but stays fundamentally herself. I adored that the turning point for each of the MCs was changing the paradigm, changing the game.
- Oliver being super attracted to Jane's personality AND her body. Hello, yes.
- Oliver. Uncomfortably familiar.
- The writing: smart, elegant, unobtrusive. I expected that based on her earlier books, but it was nice to see it again.
- The sisters. Who I secretly hope will star in the future lesbian C. Milan novella of my dreams. Totally set up for that!
-LADY FRIENDSHIP. (The moment when that happens actually made me flap my hand frantically at my honey while saying "oh! oh! oh!" The best moment in the book, I think.)
-ALL the side characters. The villain was villainous - not flat, exactly, but single-minded. The other side characters, though, clearly had a lot of complicated backstory that shone through their minor roles. Anjan Bhattacharya, especially, was an elegant, masterful bit of character building... just that hint of what it meant to be Indian, smart, elite, an outsider, and part of a complicated history of oppression/collaboration that nobody around really understands.
-The way problems were resolved... perfectly wonderful.
I think what this reminded me of most, maybe, was Graceling. It's an odd parallel to draw because the genres, plot, and readership are so very different. And Graceling had the major flaw of not having significant lady friendships between equals (that I can remember, anyway - Bitterblue doesn't count, since she's like a little sister). But Katsa reminds me of Jane in the authenticity of her journey through doubt, just barely holding on sometimes but maintaining a fierce core. And the resolutions resonated too: no substituting a relationship for closure.
Anyway, this was more of a written fanflail than a review. Loved it. So glad I bought it AND put in a purchase request for the library so that I can put it on lists at SPL. I think I'm going to purchase a print edition for easier lending!
I don't have the oomph for a proper review after finishing this one today, but my on-the-spot thoughts are that even if thFEELINGS!!!!! Oh, my heart.
I don't have the oomph for a proper review after finishing this one today, but my on-the-spot thoughts are that even if the rest of the book were terrible (which it wasn't), Park's parents and family dynamic were enough to make me fall in love with this book.
Several million bonus points for a fat character who doesn't lose weight -- specifically doesn't lose weight when she doesn't have enough to eat, BEST -- and to whom the cute indie boy is super attracted. He is overcome with emotional sexy feelings in a way that feels, god, so like my high school experience -- both characters are -- and he is specifically attracted to her, to her personality and her body, not "despite" anything.
A real winner, and hard to imagine any better candidate for the Printz appearing this year. Worth the hype, I think. ...more
I might have given it four stars, except that the addition of the BEST fat character I've encountered in a middle grade novel leveled it way the hellI might have given it four stars, except that the addition of the BEST fat character I've encountered in a middle grade novel leveled it way the hell up! nicely done! funny, fast paced, fun, with great characters and a legitimately creepy villain...fabulous job, esp for a debut author. but most of all, it wins everything for Testa, who is fat, badass, a science and engineering genius, eats healthily, and doesn't take any shit. even though the story is obvs completely different, the friendship between Sophie and Testa is almost a perfect reversal of the girls in Judy Blume's Blubber. high fives from this reader!...more
This deserves a longer review than I have the energy for tonight, so just two thoughts:
The good: The core of this story -- Ista's struggle to recogniThis deserves a longer review than I have the energy for tonight, so just two thoughts:
The good: The core of this story -- Ista's struggle to recognize and forgive her younger self for her seemingly unforgivable mistake -- feels so powerful that it carries the rest of the narrative. The ways in which it's an older woman's novel makes it worth reading and recommending widely.
The frustrating: the beginning helped identify something that I've noticed a lot in Bujold and until now wasn't pronounced enough to really irritate me -- her habit of using physical characteristics to stand in for character traits or otherwise provide exposition based on stereotype. In this one, there was at least one reference per page in the first few chapters to the fat character's waddle, his focus on eating, his slowness on the horse, his stained shirts, his absent-minded jollity... and any other non-stereotypical characteristics that come out over the course of the book, like his bravery or tenacity, end up being showcased as remarkable in spite of his size. At least he doesn't lose weight? (Miles Vorkosigan is almost the same way -- the readers are meant to marvel at how much he does in part because of his physical appearance, which he fixates on throughout the books.) She puts a lot of time and attention into physical descriptions of all the characters, but it does seem as if there's something there that's a shortcut for true character development in many cases. I'm rambling here, and clearly this needs more attention and detail -- but at any rate, it pulled me out of the story enough that I couldn't wholeheartedly enjoy it. ...more
I loved the second half of this book so much that it got my love-love-love tag despite the things that bugged me about it.
things I loved:
-The lyricsI loved the second half of this book so much that it got my love-love-love tag despite the things that bugged me about it.
things I loved:
-The lyrics to Tiny Cooper's musical. GENUIS. -Really, all the parts related to Tiny Cooper. -Tiny Cooper. -The John Green chapters. -The humor. This book cracked me up. -The gay. Genuinely awesome -The pudge (mostly). Having a fabulous, popular, attractive, self-confident, awesome fat character with no weight-loss goals (or discussion of weight-loss goals). -the romance. -the friendships. -the way the characters changed and grew. .
not so awesome: - lowercase will grayson's voice: the angst is just too irritating for me. It didn't even get bearable until post-Tiny, which I understand was probably the point. I'm interested to hear some teen perspectives on this.
-some aspects of the pudge. I was so delighted to see a fatty in YA lit whose fat was a metaphor for positive character traits that I could almost ignore the fact that it was still fat standing in as a symbol for character. "Fat = ebullient" Tiny is only the flip side of "fat = despicable" Dudley from Harry Potter, though. And lowercase will grayson's disgusted fascination with Tiny's size -- like his rehashing of how he ought to be puking at the idea of leaning into a meaty arm -- was really off-putting. There were a number of weirdly fetishizing, objectifying descriptions of Tiny from the other characters, something that didn't happen for the normatively-bodied characters. So, yeah. Not perfect. But a step in the right direction, I hope.
And honestly, the treatment of teh gay was so perfect, spot-on, refreshing -- that's exactly what I want for the fat characters too, that casual reality without narrative judgment. Maybe this is just something we need to move through on the way there. ...more
I feel disloyal giving this less than four stars, but I just didn't love it as much as I could have.
On the other hand, I DID love the food, the allusI feel disloyal giving this less than four stars, but I just didn't love it as much as I could have.
On the other hand, I DID love the food, the allusions (Wanda with her "oh, millions" of cats made me hoot on the bus!), and the general silliness. Also the description of the extremely good-looking boy with his round face and fat, sensitive hands. (I put it on my "fat" shelf just in appreciation of that lovely moment, which I read twice so that I could experience it again.) ...more
I spent most of this book alternately amused and horrified. I'd picked it up for a few reasons. First, I knew from The Brown BUm, I kind of loved it?
I spent most of this book alternately amused and horrified. I'd picked it up for a few reasons. First, I knew from The Brown Bookshelf that Andrea Davis Pinkney picked it up at Jump At The Sun, and that intrigued me. Second, the cover is hot pink and glittery... which leads to: Third, I knew some of my reluctant girl readers might go nuts for it, especially with the Disney tie-in that they already love, and I wanted them to be able to read something fun and playful starring tween girls of color. Finally, I came across all the books were on remainder for $4.98 at my local indie bookstore.
Pros: often hilarious, full of puns, size-positive (for real!!), with some good life lessons and a racially and culturally diverse set of characters.
Cons: shamelessly materialistic, flat characters. Now that it's a series, it's almost like a huge commercial for Disney in the library... though to be fair, that was not the case when these were written. Pretty darn trashy. Also, it took me 100 pages to get past the incessant cutesy rhyming. GAG.
More pros: by the second book, I was much more entertained than annoyed. I kept reading passages out loud to my partner because I was giggling so much. It's so over-the-top that it became loveable. The closest comparison I can think of is the movie Clueless. It really has much more of a Clueless vibe than a trashy urban fiction vibe. And did I mention size-positive? Seriously. Rare.
Twelve hours and 400 pages later, I brought the second (400 page) book in from the car, just in case. ...more
It is amazing to me how much this feels like my community, even a generation removed and twenty years after publication. There's even non-preachy, nonIt is amazing to me how much this feels like my community, even a generation removed and twenty years after publication. There's even non-preachy, non-issues-y body diversity and realistic sex! I just loved it all over again, this time with an deeply affectionate recognition that I didn't have when I read it the first time in college. It felt like when you meet extended family members and recognize yourself and your roots in a way that you didn't before.
Thank you, Alison Bechdel. This is still the best reflection of us that I've ever seen, and I didn't know how much that meant to me until I encountered it here.