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3.35  ·  Rating details ·  2,188 ratings  ·  170 reviews
"I'm fat," I hear myself saying. I look in the mirror. My face has gone hot and red; I feel like I'm going to explode. "I'm fat." It sizzles under my skin, puffing me up, pushing me out, making me massive.

Weight has always been a big issue in Carmen's life. How could it not? Her mom is obsessed with the idea that thin equals beautiful, thin equals successful, thin equal
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,188 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Some books are so good, they make you angry. Massive, by Julia Bell, is one of those books.

Set in England, Massive is the story of a teenager girl, Carmen, whose mother suffers from an eating disorder–one that she is slowly forcing upon her daughter. She’s moody, paranoid, and slowly unraveling at the seams. Honestly, sometimes you really want to punch this woman for what she’s doing to her daughter. And that’s part of the power of the book: hating Carmen’s mother while at the same time feeling
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like "Massive," since I've always had a particular soft spot for characters with eating disorders, but there was something so bleak about the lack of character development here that I really can't say I enjoyed it. We see snippets of a severely disordered mother, passing along her anorexic/bulimic ways to her young teenage daughter, but it's all so heavily mixed with random scenes that nothing feels accomplished. I either want to have great character development or a great plot line, ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it did not like it

No character development. The characters are weak charictures of stereotypes.

Basic plot is that a mother is anorexic, keeps calling her teen daughter fat, daughter develops an eating disorder.

The daughter, by the way, is legitimately described as fat. The first half of the book talks about how she gobbles down Big Macs and piles of candy bars. The fat daughter is 114 pounds. (It would be fine to have someone think of themselves as fat and not be, which is what I assume the author was
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I really did not enjoy this. Really. I'd previously read a really amazing ED book ('Monkey Taming' by Judith Fathallah) so was interested in trying out more of the same genre. But the book is barely about Carmen's dieting or ED, it's mostly about her cruel, crazy mother and the crap drama Carmen goes through.

I felt the book didn't give a proper insight into Carmen's personality or motives, despite the entire book being in a first person narrative. Her actions seemed pretty random at times and e
May 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alyce Hunt
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-borrowed
'Massive' is a story focusing on eating disorders, particularly bulimia nervosa, so if you're sensitive to issues regarding eating disorders and you find it to be triggering, please don't read this review!
'I must try harder, I write, pressing the biro into my biology book, not to eat. It is this which is at the root of my problems, I have decided. Not Mum and Dad, or Nana or Kelly or Maxine and Paisley, but this: my puffy face, my swelling breasts, my belly. If I was beautiful, I could have ever
Emily Trochelman
Oct 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
I've read many books about this disorder and to be honest, I found myself more annoyed with the mother than anything else. It's a bit like watching the movie Tangled only instead of keeping her child in a tower for her own use, the mother starves her child and calls her terrible names. I just found this to be a hard read as everyone I know with this disorder is kind to others and horrid to themselves. I don't feel like this book has shown the typical attitude of an Anorexic, it's just made a ste ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for books that takes place in England and for teen mental health stories, so I had high hopes for this book. Bell does an excellent job of creating depth to the characters of Carmen and her mother. Mom is thoroughly despicable from the beginning and it is heartbreaking to watch Carmen wrestle with the demons that want her to resist and become her at the same time.

The other characters weren't as engaging and I got bored in the middle a bit, when I could predict where things were goin
The main thing I really enjoyed about this book is that it's mostly set in Birmingham which is great because I haven't been able to find much Birmingham-based YA (we're the second city people, start writing fiction about us!) I really enjoyed reading about places that I know where they are (or were, this book was published in 2002) and there was even a bit of politics with discussion of the Bull Ring and the new building.

As for the book itself, I kind of enjoyed it but it's a bit scattergun with
Rachel Yule
Jul 31, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
I thought Massive was going to deal with weight issues - eating disorders and body image. However, it's really a book about family and how some families can be destructive for those in them. I found Massive to be really dark and disturbing. I'd like to say it was unrealistic in that I can't believe that none of the family members saw what was happening and stepped in. However, I do know that in life those closest to a bad situation often turn a blind eye. I had trouble connecting to the characte ...more
Valerie Haynes
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up and then lost interest and then powered through it over a weekend. It was “gritty” in the grand tradition of unsentimental books about British teenagers having a bad time. There were no characters who weren’t psychologically stunted and wildly disconnected. Still it was kind of satisfying to read.

Are retail jobs more important in England than in the US? If someone moved to a different city for a retail job in the US I would assume they were lying and on the run from the la
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Written by a friend of mine so I'm hugely biased, but my (adolescent) kids give it five stars too.

2002 notebook: good on the drug-like pull of biscuits and big Macs, cake and crisps and chocolate bars, the soft sweet mess in your mouth, tongue slick with it. How you feel the grease and weight of it in your gullet.
Naomi Grodzieński
Mar 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf

That's my one question, why? Now don't get me wrong I'm not saying the author should have never written this book or anything of the sorts. The writing was probably the okay Est this with this book. Where should I start? Oh I know how about the bullying? I am only at page 97 and I already get chills THINKING about finishing this book. Im barley 1/3 of the way through and I'm already triggered and the thing is. Im not triggered by the actually thing the book is supposed to be based on. I am t
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

I don't know what to say. Just that there were some really good parts that I really would have loved to see more of in Massive. Some scenes showed good character development but I felt like some scenes may have been redundant and that the story could have focused more on scenes that were more powerful.

I guess that's the problem with writing about mental illnesses. It's such a touchy and subjective issue, it's a really hard topic to write about, much less make it a central
Brooke Clark
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Carmen's life is about to get a bit messed up in this book. Carmen is a teen in high school and well, she's fat. She just doesn't care. Her mom goes on all these diets, her dad sneaks her candy and she eats all the time, hiding everything from her mom. Then suddenly, her mom takes Carmen and they move. Carmen now has to find new friends in her new school and cope with gross diet food and her dad being gone. Carmen's new friends are the schools 'it' girls, so Carmen tries her best to fit in. Will ...more
Apr 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, ed
DNF @34%

The protagonist’s mother doesn’t just have an eating disorder, she may also have a personality disorder. If nothing else, this is veering very strongly on child neglect and it makes me too angry to keep on reading. (The mum pretty much forgets to feed her daughter?) Even the dad, who seems like a normal guy, doesn’t do anything?? I felt especially betrayed by that.

I could read literally anything else and have a better time so I won’t make myself finish this for the sake of finishing it.
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
TW: eating disorders

I felt like this was a really good representation of eating disorders (not specified as to which one it covers specifically) but it was very slow to start with. I wish it was a little longer and we got to see the after of everything that happened at the end of the book but other than that it was a solid read. I'd recommend it if you are looking for a raw representation of an eating disorder.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book takes place in England. Carmen is a typical teen who is trying to maintain friendships and and get along with her mom. The latter is hard because her mom is a terrible person, constantly ridiculing C for eating. Maria is anorexic.

Maria decides to leave her partner of many years and the only father-figure in C’s life. Maria returns home. C meets Billy, an old friend and her aunt who is a nail manicurist. C develops bulimia.
Michelle Wallis
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book about body image and damaging families. It explores eating disorders, family hostility and children being torn in the middle. My only criticism is that there was room to further develop the characters and the ending was a little of a let down.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth a read.

This was a good one. It was a bit different, and honestly, I expected a different ending, like a twist, maybe. It was good writing, but the end fell a little flat for me. It felt rushed and thrown together. All in all, it was just okay.
Stacey Purtzer

Easy read...terrible ending...unless there is another book? Perfect book for mothers with an eating disorders. It was very sad how she as totally fine and then her mom teaches her how to learn to hate food.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
Nothing happened in this book? I also hoped it would go more in depth into the disorders and at least attempt to solve them or offer insight, but the entire book, plot, characters, everything, just fell completely flat.
Helen Rosell
Terrible. You never learn to like Carmen and her mother isn't any better. ...more

It just stopped. No actual ending. Choppy writing at times and her descent into bulimia seems abrupt. Really unhappy with the lack of an ending.
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
It was a fairly good book, only there wasn't much of a plot to follow. I understand that it was written as a biography, but it was as if there was no story line to follow at all. ...more
Chantelle Hadden
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the storyline but it could have been better.
Chanelle Flanagan
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Love the book. Wanted to kill the mother but I know some kids live the exact same situation.
Ending could of been a little more interesting.
I have apparently read this but I have zero memory of doing so or what my feelings were about it.
Trigger Warning Database
Trigger & Content Warnings

Fatmisia & body shaming
Eating disorders
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Librarian note: there are multiple authors with this name on Goodreads.

I was born in Bristol but raised in Wales (I can speak Welsh!) and have published two novels for young adults - Massive and Dirty Work, both published by Macmillan in the UK. In the US Massive is published by Simon and Schuster and Dirty Work by Walker Books. Massive has also been translated into ten languages, including Thai!

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