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Every Body Shines: Sixteen Stories About Living Fabulously Fat

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An intersectional, feminist YA anthology from some of today's most exciting voices across a span of genres, all celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance through short stories.

Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful. They express themselves through fashion, sports and other physical pursuits, through food, and music, and art. They are flirting and falling in love. They are loving to themselves and one another. With stories that feature fat main characters starring in a multitude of stories and genres, and written by authors who live these lives too, this is truly a unique collection that shows fat young people the representation they deserve.

With a foreword by Aubry Gordon, creator of Your Fat Friend, and with stories by:
Nafiza Azad, Chris Baron, Sheena Boekweg, Linda Camacho, Kelly deVos, Alex Gino, Claire Kann, amanda lovelace, Hillary Monahan, Cassandra Newbould, Francina Simone, Rebecca Sky, Monique Gray Smith, Renée Watson, Catherine Adel West, Jennifer Yen

416 pages, Hardcover

First published May 11, 2021

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Cassandra Newbould

2 books27 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 84 reviews
Profile Image for emma.
1,818 reviews45.2k followers
June 28, 2021
going to write a lil review with a rating for each story!

because i am addicted to my genius project and i don't know how to stop.

story 1: Guilt Trip by Claire Kann
realized this story is by the same author as Let's Talk about Love due to the similarly bratty protagonist.
anyway this is actually very sweet and had more satisfactory character development in 18 pages than that book did in hundreds, so it's a win in my eyes.
rating: 4

story 2: Shatter by Cassandra Newbould
this was simply trying to do way too much.
rating: 2.5

story 3: Prom Queers by Alex Gino
"eighth grade prom" is not a word combo i have read before, but this is good.
rating: 3.5

story 4: Dupatta Diaries by Nafiza Azad
this has so many insanely delicious food descriptions in it that i might die from intensely craving butter chicken.
this collection markets itself as being happy stories of thriving fat teens who love themselves, but this one was pretty sad? and the ending was like. happy adjacent.
rating: 3.5

story 5: Food is Love by Chris Baron
not feeling good about my chances of recovering from food description-induced cravings.
i kind of feel like i didn't...get this one. and it made me sad how impatient this protagonist was with his grandmother's memory loss.
rating: 2.5

story 6: Orion's Star by Catherine Adel West
the vast majority of these are turning out to be sad. which is fine, but i feel bad for fat teens who were excited to read stories where they aren't defined by their bodies and they get more of the same.
rating: 3

story 7: Weightless by Sheena Boekweg
rating: 4

story 8: Outside Pitch by Kelly deVos
ugh. sports.
just kidding. that's a cheap joke and i like football. and basketball. and hockey. and soccer, sometimes. and the olympics.
but not baseball or any variation of it. so.
this is like a Catfish romance in which the mom is a totally insane person and it's not really addressed.
all over the place.
rating: 3.25

story 9: Filling the Net by Monique Gray Smith
whoa. this one is about hockey. i feel like i summoned it.
like seemingly every YA short story in existence, the relationships in this were completely rushed and bizarre, but we forgive and forget.
rating: 3

story 10: A Perfect Fit by Jennifer Yen
god this was another one where the plotline is mostly Sadness. and then it ended cute but i feel fooled and deceived!
rating: 3.5

story 11: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Rebecca Sky
everybody was so mad at each other in this one. jeez. there were like 4 characters in this and 3 of them were haters.
rating: 2.5

story 12: Letters to Charlie Brown by Francina Simone
ANOTHER sad but sweet one. how do i rate these when they're fine but i feel LIED TO???
rating: 3.75

story 13: love spells and lavender lattes by amanda lovelace
lowercase stylization, for once, not mine.
i have managed to make it to this point in my reading career without voluntarily reading even one word of the instagram poets. but here i am. about to fail.
jesus christ.
rating: 1

story 14: Breathe You In by Hillary Monahan
okay. this lost me a little when a strand of hair was described as a "ripe curl," but i'm trying to stay onboard. (nautical pun intended.)
style nightmares aside this is so fun.
rating: 3.75

story 15: Unpleasant Surprises by Linda Camacho
rating: 3.25

story 16: Letting Go by Renee Watson
way to end on the very best one so i feel like i liked the whole thing more.
rating: 4.5

i think this anthology is so important, but i also think the way it's been marketed is pretty cruel. saying this is "celebrating body diversity and fat acceptance," featuring characters who "are loving to themselves and one another," and giving "fat young people the representation they deserve," and then more than half of the stories are about self-hate or hate from others or both...it's mean.
i wish more of these could have been about space travelers and evil mermaids and cousins loving each other at the beach. but i loved the ones that were!
rating: 2.5 or 3

tbr review

beyond excited to read this.

(thanks to the publisher for the ARC!!)


reading all books with LGBTQ+ rep for pride this month!

book 1: the gravity of us
book 2: the great american whatever
book 3: wild beauty
book 4: the affair of the mysterious letter
book 5: how we fight for our lives
book 6: blue lily, lily blue
book 7: the times i knew i was gay
book 8: conventionally yours
book 9: the hollow inside
book 10: nimona
book 11: dark and deepest red
book 12: the house in the cerulean sea
book 13: the raven king
book 14: violet ghosts
book 15: as far as you'll take me
book 16: bad feminist
book 17: a song for a new day
book 18: one last stop
book 19: to break a covenant
book 20: honey girl
book 21: check, please!
book 22: the subtweet
book 23: if we were villains
book 24: everything leads to you
book 25: you have a match
book 26: ziggy, stardust, and me
book 27: all the invisible things
book 28: heartstopper
book 29: boyfriend material
book 30: extraordinary birds
book 31: every body shines
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
1,962 reviews3,277 followers
March 12, 2021
Actual Rating: 2.5 stars

I really love the idea behind this anthology: intersectional stories about being fat and fabulous. Sounds awesome! In practice, I have much more mixed feelings about the collection. Namely that there is a LOT of fat phobia in this book. A lot. From family, from friends, internalized, vicious...and is that often the lived experience of fat people? Yes, to a greater or lesser extent. However, I went into this hoping for more stories about joy and body positivity and falling in love and doing cool things, fewer stories explicitly detailing painful words and experiences. While there were a few (wonderful!) stories that leaned more that direction, the vast majority did not and I wish this had been curated differently.

On their own, many of the stories are well executed. But as a fat person reading them all together, it was quite difficult to get through and made me wonder who the audience for this collection is. If it is for fat teens or other fat YA readers, I worry this will collectively do more harm than good given the very high number of potentially triggering scenarios. If it is to educate thin people, the marketing and approach aren't ideal for that either. I am sure that the authors all have good intentions and are reflecting their experiences, but from an editorial standpoint, I think this could have been better. I do appreciate that we get representation of BIPOC, queer, and non-binary characters and authors from a variety of backgrounds. That's great. But please use caution with this book, because while the title makes it sound joyful and uplifting, the reality is often more like walking through a whole lot of darkness to find a light at the end of the tunnel. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Shawna Finnigan.
454 reviews298 followers
May 6, 2021
*2.75 stars rounded up

The introduction starts of with eye opening, inspiring, and profound quotes that immediately pulled me into the book and made me eager to read the stories. I grew up in a world where people around me would make fatphobic remarks and only in my late teens was I able to release how wrong they are. This book is letting me see into another type of life and body that I haven’t experienced and for that I am grateful. It’s nice to finally read something that accepts every body as normal and has inspiring stories that uplift plus sized people. However, that being said, I unfortunately was not a fan of all the stories in this collection and some dealt with so much fatphobia that a lot of the stories felt less positive and uplifting than what I thought this collection would be.

I’ll give a mini review and star rating for each story in this collection.

Guilt Trip: 3 stars. This is a light, cheesy story that focuses on family drama and music/bands.

Shatter: 3 stars. Another very light story that was sweet yet surprisingly confusing at the same time. It was somewhat of a time loop story but I couldn’t exactly describe the logistics of how the world or time loop works as that was a bit confusing to me.

Prom Queers: 3 stars. This one had non-binary and demiromantic rep in it, which I really appreciate. It’s really cute and it talks a lot about the struggles of finding clothes that fit you as a fat person and that non-binary people feel comfortable in. An eye opening read that had a very heartwarming ending.

Dupatta Diaries: 3 stars. This one is a little less uplifting than the other stories. It talks a lot about diets, body shaming, and fatphobia. The way that these topics are presented may be triggering to some people. This story made me so sad. It made me understand the importance of clothing more and specifically clothing that fits all body types, but it saddened me that people hate their bodies so much and that other people outright express their hatred for fat people. I know that this is a fictional story, but unfortunately stories like this one happen all the time in real life and I wish there was more I could do to help people realize that being fat is not the same thing as being unhealthy or unworthy of love.

Food is Love: 3 stars. Another one that may be triggering to some people as it deals with complicated relationships with food, fatphobia, and diets. It also deals with memory loss in a very respectful and gentle way.

Orion’s Star: 4 stars. A moving story about rekindling broken relationships, family problems, and grief.

Weightless: 4 stars. Science fiction stories set in space are really hard to make into a short story. There’s so much complex world building that they work better as novels. This one was great for a science fiction short story, but I wish it would’ve been a full novel instead of just a short story. I loved the characters and the light romance but since the story was so short, it was hard to fully understand the world building. There was mentions of calorie counting and disordered eating in this story that could be triggering to some people.

Outside Pitch: 3 stars. An interesting mix of cat fishing, baseball, clowns, and movies that surprisingly works well together and is really sweet.

Filling the Net: 4 stars. This one was a super sweet one that revolves around hockey and reminds me a lot of the movie “She’s the Man.”

A Perfect Fit: 5 stars. Though this one had fatphobia in it, it was also very sweet and uplifting. The main character reclaimed her own beauty and it was so beautiful.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: 3 stars. This story dealt with some important topics like the Australia wildfires and how BMI isn’t an accurate measure of health. There were just some characters that got too much on my nerves in this story.

Letters to Charlie Brown: 2 stars. This story is exactly as the title suggests - a teen writing to Charlie Brown as she struggles with school, moving, boys, and other typical teenage issues. I didn’t like the main character much. She was very annoying to me and the way that she referred to a teen who she thought was struggling mentally was not okay.

love spells & lavender lattes: 1 star. To start off with, I’m not a huge fan of the writing style. Using no capitols, using “&” instead of “and,” and using silly curses that are supposed to emphasize the fantasy elements of the story proceeded to annoy me throughout the course of this story. And secondly and most importantly… I hated all the characters, especially the main character. She’s such a typical annoying fantasy character that I despise. She tries so hard to not be like other girls and she epically fails at that. She’s so full of herself. She’s like a certain type of character that I’ve seen across countless fantasy stories that I always despise. I didn't know a short story could annoy me this much until I read this one…

Breathe You In: 3 stars. This was like a disturbing Little Mermaid fanfiction and I don’t know how to feel about it-

Unpleasant Surprises: 1 star. I went through a similar situation with a friend when I was younger so this story brought back too many memories and depressed feelings that I’ve been trying to suppress for years. The ending wasn’t even rewarding. I got nothing out of this story.

Letting Go: 2 stars. This story didn’t really do much for me and it confuses me. Since when do people wear swimsuits to Oregon beaches and go swimming without fear of sneaker waves coming to get you??

Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an eArc of this book in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Sheena Boekweg.
Author 9 books109 followers
December 30, 2020
This book is everything. Full disclosure, I'm one of the authors, but I'm also a massive fan of Fat Positive YA, and these stories are INCREDIBLE and the forward made me cry.

Each story is written from a place of love and acceptance, we have sci-fi and fantasy, contemporary and romance. It's enormously inclusive. And in each story, the fat mc is celebrated and centered. I'm so in love with all of these stories and these authors.

But most of all, I cannot wait for this book to find the readers who have not been able to see themselves centered. Each story is a carefully folded piece of paper that says, "You matter. You are enough."

I highly recommend.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
615 reviews621 followers
Want to read
January 28, 2021
"Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful."

This just sounds so incredibly good and I am especially happy to read that the stories are "written by authors who live these lives too"! I truly cannot wait for this 💜

Instagram | Blog | Booktube Channel | Twitter
Profile Image for dirtyhands (Taylor's Version).
142 reviews85 followers
December 7, 2021

1. guilt trip- claire kann:
while i’m loving the fat poc leads, shes kind of whiney. i mean shes not lovably stubborn or anything like that, it’s just plain self-pity and often treating others (good people) badly. the arc was pretty good for this short of a story, but still. it didn’t go far. 3/5

2. shatter- cassandra newbould:
this one about a bus crash and crazy exes threw me off. i’m not sure what even went down there. for the audiobook, it’s not very clear on what’s happening. the pov change also adds to confusion. the last one was 1st person, and this one is 3rd?? this is very much about trauma and abuse rather than being fat.
“People don’t ask fat girls to dance.”
^^a direct quote from the mc
moral of the story: it takes getting hit by a bus to appreciate yourself 2/5

3. prom queers- alex gino:
this has way better fat rep, with the mcs who love their bodies, but there are moments of doubt, which wasn’t really necessary. i liked the inclusion of the fact that it’s hard to shop/buy clothes for dances as a fat person, that’s definitely the bane of my existence. 3.5/5

4. dupatta diaries- nafiza azad:
SO MANY FATPHOBIC THOUGHTS! NO! i get where they’re coming from, it’s about someone who hated their body who learns to love it. it’s a good message but for a book that caters warm fat fuzzy love, and hands you a heaping plate of body-hate, you misunderstood the assignment. whomever wrote this one is clearly a good writer with good morals, but it’s not delivering the promised content! i liked the mc understanding why her mom would diet her, so that her daughter wouldn’t have to go through what she did, BUT the mc did not forgive her immediately! just because someone has a reason to do something doesnt always make it okay. it showed that people are human, but because they’re “human” doesn’t mean they can treat other people badly. 3/5

5. food is love- chris baron:
…this almost has the same premise of the story before. fat person who loves food yet is starving themselves because of shaming family members. again, self-hate and not even giving your body the bare minimum of protein for energy! this was a really short one with almost zero character arc. there wasn’t any positive talk, but the mc did eat a piece of bread so i guess that’s a win. 2.5/5
6. orion’s star- catherine west:
it’s really more about repairing relationships with those who’ve hurt you than being fat. that’s a great topic to speak on, but not one for a promised “fat self-love” book. 3/5

7. weightless- sheena boekweg:
a sci-fi, a nice change of pace. there’s self-hate but not entire loathing? man, the bar is low. she makes remarks on how she likes her boobs, once. she comes to the conclusion that hating herself and worrying about how other people perceive her is a waste of time, so that’s the right direction. i just really don’t like that there’s multiple stories including EDs or unhealthy starvation to loose weight or to “be able to love yourself.” while it has some themes of a guy saying she’s perfect, and THEN her believing. it’s not really about the guy, she ends up knowing her weight and what people think don’t matter! she loves herself and is finally comfortable in her own skin. 4/5

8. outside pitch- kelly devos :
yayyyyy! a fat girl liking herself!!
so,,, her mom.. is cat fishing this goth teen as the daughter without her consent. got it. isn’t it like pedophilia or?? their ages aren’t confirmed but they seem to be very young. i do like that the guy likes romcoms! yay no gender stereotypes! BUT IS NOBODY FREAKED IUT THAT HE FELL IN LOVE W HER MOM THINKING SHE WAS A TEEN. it’s a lil icky. and they just forgive her?
a story like this could be great. if you have enough time to explore being angry and then repairing relationships with your mom, and actually falling for this guy. on the guy’s side, you have him feeling betrayed that he was catfished and then actually learning that he found someone great because of that bad circumstance. this story didn’t quite work as well because it’s not meant to be a short story. i get where the author is coming from, but the pacing was too weird to make me like it. 1/5

9. filling the net- monique smith:
parents uprooting their children’s life and just ✨moving✨ is the worst. it’s so inconsiderate. just because this is how her mom wants to cope with loss does not mean that’s what your children need. ACTUALLY, they usually need support and some sense of normalcy and constants in their lives. the mc makes several remarks on how she misses her friends and her lives. so your daughter’s dad dies and you move her from everything she loves? it wasn’t even for financial stability!
”Sometime’s I forgot I’m fat, but then I remember.” like that’s a bad thing🙄 I BEG OF U I JUST WANT SOME SELF-LOVE
kinda upset that his guy is seen as a hero or whatever for just not being sexist. like
all the other guys.
i mean he’s great? but i feel like the overplay it because he speak up against these super sexist assholes 3/5

10. perfect fit- jennifer yen:
guess who DIDNT order a large load of ✨fat bullying✨trope. 2/5

11. liar liar- rebecca sky:
pretty good fat rep but not here for the girl-on-girl hate😐 the friends-to-lovers wasn’t very developed, so i didn’t really care/connect to them. the two girls started to like each other but STILL they hated each other and for what? 3/5

12. letters to Charlie- francina simone:
oh wait we got skinny shaming now?🧐 that’s not it. also the mc actually “looking” for the pretty girl’s flaws?? ✨girl-on-girl hate✨
so for english: our mc is reading the scarlet letter by nathaniel hawthorn. and if you haven’t read it: it’s about a girl who commits adultery with a priest, and the priest is chicken and lies that it isn’t his, and the girl gets punished and is forced to wear a scarlet “A” for adultery on her clothing for the rest of her life. in this short story, the mc says in her english presentation that the girl DESERVED IT. the priest was a coward and so the girl went to JAIL and then was a public OUTCAST for something they both took part in. it presents sexism in the puritan era, and Hawthorn was calling the puritans out, and the MC SAYS THE GIRL DESERVES IT?? that’s an awful opinion and not girlbossing😤

13. love spells- amanda lovelace: (inspired by GOT)
oohhh a 14th century fantasy with technology, i’m liking this. It’s giving Nina Zenik from Six of Crows energy. yooo she loves her body! wow! so this squire accidentally drinks a love potion and falls in love with her. she doesn’t want that, and they go to try and fix it. we have this lovestruck squire following around this nononsense sarcastic girl! it’s highly entertaining. but the ending makes so sense at all. i assume katherine has to give up her chance at love to reverse the spell, but it never clarifies, it’s a very open ending. 4/5

14. breathe you in- hilary monahan:
oooh fat Little Mermaid retelling! except SHE KILLS HIM LIKE A SIREN! oh my god. but it’s great actually, the fat rep and how they present it. 4/5

15. unpleasant surprises- linda camacho:
”Skinny Bitch” yeah i’m not a fan of the bodyshaming, it works both ways. i thought that the mc was really rude to a girl who had lost weight because that was her choice! and she likes the outcome! advocating against fatphobia is not the same as skinny shaming or disapproving of working out. also, the girl-on-girl hate for no reason. why is it always the “skinnies” vs. the “fats” why can’t we all just be accepting😩 2/5
16. letting go- renee watson:
the confidence! the family connection and friendship! the good vibes! my favorite 5/5

so yea, i came here for 9 hours of positivity, and got a whole load of ✨bodyshaming✨most of it was intentional, and meant to show that you can grow from hating yourself into loving yourself, but didn’t come across very clear. it just needs to be marketed better. if they said ”here’s a story on fatphobia and intrusive thoughts.” THE. PERFECT but they catered it as “living fabulously fat,” so they tricked me.
Profile Image for Emma Crowell.
115 reviews
April 24, 2021
I really, really hate to write this review. I had so many high hopes for this anthology, and I've been excited for it since it was announced on twitter. But unfortunately, it was not what I expected at all. I think my number one problem is just how much fatphobia is in here. I don't want to dismiss the authors' experiences, especially since I've dealt with fatphobia my whole life. But nearly every single story was about people feeling shamed for who they are, and then at the last moment, magically finding some brief happiness. I was excited for this anthology because I thought it would be different from the normal stories we see when fat people are rarely featured, but I was really disappointed. Additionally, the stories themselves felt weirdly preachy about fatphobia being wrong, etc. I was expecting more stories in where the focus of the story isn't the main character's weight. I get that it's a hard line to walk, between fully focusing on a character's weight and ignoring it, but every single story seemed to solely revolve around body shame until the very end. I wish I could have enjoyed this anthology more, but it just made me disappointed.
Profile Image for Rebecca Sky.
Author 7 books197 followers
March 15, 2021
As a contributor, getting to read all the stories was such an interesting and emotional rollercoaster of an experience. I had no clue what to expect other than some of my favs(and new authors to me) writing about bodies like mine in their own worldviews. I was really excited when I finally got my hands on a copy and spent the rest of my day doing nothing but reading.

Every Body Shines definitely celebrates body diversity and fat acceptance, and while a lot of the stories are about fat joy (which is so important to the work of normalizing normal bodies), others were about fat understanding and dismantling fatphobia. I laughed, I cried, I felt hurt and angry (those moments of fatphobia), there were times of sadness, and lots of joy too. For the most part, the characters had bodies like me, fears and loves, and hopes and dreams like me. I fangirled through some of my favs, and have some new favorite authors now too. Overall, even in the harder stories to read, I still felt seen—as the character (and even as the bully). Though I’m a fat person, who's been on a long journey to self-acceptance, I sometimes find myself repeating the lies society tells me about my body and using those lies to hold myself back. As hard as it was to read the fatphobic moments from another fat person's point of view, (all too often in media fat people are just the butt of some other character's fatphobic joke then we move on without seeing the harm that causes) there was a certain camaraderie knowing that people share the same pains and experiences as I do. We're not alone.

When writing my story, it was important to me to have a Fat MC living their best life, kicking all the ass and being all the brave that I'm sometimes afraid to be. I wanted, no needed, a character that reminded me that I can unapologetically take up space, be exactly who I am, and follow my dreams in my fat body despite the systems and people standing in my way. I hope you find something to connect to in Every Body Shines too. And I can’t wait to hear what you think about my story: Liar Liar Pants on Fire!

Profile Image for Cassandra Newbould.
Author 2 books27 followers
March 14, 2021
Hi Everyone! I'm Cass, the creator and also a contributor, in Every Body Shines. EBS is an intersectional collection of stories about fat bodies written by 16 fat authors. 16 stories who show fat kids finding their happiness. Fat kids are allowed to have a "hero's journey" arc. They deserve love, joy, neutrality. But they also deserve self discovery, self reflection, self recognition of internalized fatphobia. They are allowed.
Also, fat stories deserve to be looked at through a world's lens. If we only view a story from a closed American culture lens we miss out on a lot. This collection is diverse in many ways including culturally, and I hope that one special gift readers get is the immersion in those cultures that they may not have had a chance to experience yet. There are different beauty standards and fat stigma around the world that may not make sense to a reader from American culture, but the story is still valid because, and I'll say it again, the fat experience is not a monolith. And that's why I value each story in #EVERYBODYSHINES because every author has lived the fat experience and so their stories reflect moments they've felt.
Some of these moments are raw and painful, BUT! The beauty of this collection is that every single MC finds their shine. Does the journey wind for some to get there? Yes, just as it does in real life. IF we were all born with self confidence and allowed to carry it without fat stigma, we would only have joyous stories to tell.
We live in a fatphobic world and the fat experience is not a monolith. Sometimes in life, there will be struggle, pain, and coming to terms with a person's own internalized fatphobia to find a way to truly allow happiness to blossom, and you'll find that the same journey will ring true in some of these stories. The strength in this novel, for me, is that each mc finds the brilliant light that makes them shine at some point in the story. Do some of the stories wait until the very end to illuminate? Yeah, as in life, sometimes we need to stand in the shadow to find our light. But, I think each character does exactly that in their own way, in their own time. The fat experience is not a monolith, and that is shown here.
I hope that any person that is struggling with acceptance, from the outside world or from within can find a way to shine. We are all so beautifully perfect in our imperfections. We all belong, and we all deserve our happy endings, as well as our stories of struggle, acceptance, love, neutrality. And I hope that the love, emotion, and truth that each author poured into their stories are felt as a whole in this collection.
1 review
October 7, 2021
So it’s not “every body shines” it’s only fat bodies. So the title is misleading and disappointing and frankly discriminatory. But whatever. I don’t know why I picked this book up, but it was in the thrift store for $3 so, why not?

Some of these authors just sound angry and passive aggressive the whole time... the space one was a little decent though.

But, come on... do we really need to whine and make other people who are healthier and in shape be the bad guys or can we all just get along? I don’t think being fat should be glorified as a good thing and that’s coming from someone overweight themselves.

Sure, love yourself and who you are but don’t be proud to be unhealthy because let’s face the facts with health and science—shall we? A fat person will not live as long as a healthy in shape person. Cry about it and scream “BUT BUT!” No. Stop it with the tantrums. Just like smoking and anything else unhealthy in life should not be viewed as a good thing. Should we parade around that drugs are good for you? Nope.

I guess fat people just needed a place to whine. I would have really enjoyed this book if it wasn’t so heavily focused on weight. That’s your problem. Write some stories where it’s not focused on weight and appearance like most books do today. Nobody really cares anyway except for the millennials. Just another thing to cry about.
Profile Image for USOM.
2,311 reviews194 followers
August 11, 2021
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: fatphobia

Before I even began, I loved the premise of Every Body Shines. The ways that these stories celebrate fat characters existing and living their best lives. Of being able to read about the little things you might never have thought of in your own life. Used by society as bodies to be shamed or made fun of, Every Body Shines is heartfelt as it both examines fatphobia but also the joys of their lives. How we internalize the fatphobia, how it's passed down to us, but how Every Body Shines celebrates their hopes, futures, and ghosts.

full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
Profile Image for A.J..
Author 9 books216 followers
March 27, 2021
I received a physical arc of this anthology and the editor is one of my agent's clients. This does not impact my rating or the substance of my review.

I am not the target demographic of this fat-positive YA anthology--and yet, I somehow still felt seen while reading many of the stories. A lot of this has to do with the choice of contributors. There is a diverse range of authors in this collection, from New York Times bestsellers and multi-award winners to those for whom this anthology is their first publishing credit. There is fantastic BIPOC rep, as well as the inclusion of several queer characters. It's also cross-genre. The one thing these stories have in common? They feature fat protagonists.

I've never read anything quite like this anthology and in many ways it was a window into lives sometimes very different from mine, although occasionally familiar as well. It's really incredible to think that teens are going to soon be able to pick up a book that features fat characters on the cover, a book that celebrates body types that are often ignored and sometimes even mocked in YA literature.

The collection is laid out in a great way and features stories that range from fantastical (there's a fierce little mermaid retelling and a YA take on Groundhog Day) to contemporary (a nonbinary fat character attending prom, an epistolary story where the main character is writing letters to Charlie Brown). No matter what type of YA genre you love, there'll be something for you in this collection.

The defining thread is fat characters, written by fat authors. While not all of the stories are about being fat, each character experiences the world in a unique way as a result of their body type. There's so much nuance, such sensitively rendered portrayals. This would be a wonderful book to add to any reader's collection.
Profile Image for vania vela.
191 reviews3 followers
July 22, 2022
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I came here looking for happy, body-positive stories, and ended up consuming a book full of body-shaming stories. Most of the characters deal with fatphobia and body shaming on an ongoing basis, when we were promised stories that celebrated body diversity and fat acceptance.

Guilt Trip by Claire Kann

Fifteen-year-old Mia has struggled with her weight her whole life, but now she has the opportunity to perform with her favorite band.

The main character is manipulative and treats people badly. I understand that it was an important day for her, but there are things people can't control and she didn't seem to understand that. However, the story arc was good despite being a short story.

Rating: 3/5

Shatter by Cassandra Newbould

Bri has died seven times. Each time she was saving her sister Rae's life from Rae's ex-boyfriend Adrian, who tries to hit her with his car.

Bri has died seven times. Each time saving her sister Rae's life from her ex-boyfriend , Adrian, who tries to run her over with his car.

There were a lot of elements, which makes this confusing. The concept is similar to "Happy Death Day," but it's not entirely clear what happens. The ending was unsatisfying.


Prom Queers by Alex Gino

Sam, a fat, non-binary high school student, has been asked by her best friend to go to prom with them. Now the problem is finding an outfit they feel good in.

The portrayal of fat people is better than the previous one, as the characters love their bodies. This story highlights the problems fat teens and children face when looking for clothes in a society that praises thin bodies. This book has a non-binary and demiromantic representation, which I really appreciate.

Rating: 4/5

Dupatta Diaries by Nafiza Azad

Jamilah, a fat desi girl, has been shamed by her mother her whole life.

I have mixed thoughts about this. I understand that being bullied as a child can affect your life, but why put someone else through what you went through?
Dupatta Diaries talks a lot about dieting, body shaming and fatphobia, which can be a trigger for some people. This could have had better execution, but instead we get a lot of fatphobic interaction among the family.

Rating: 3/5

Food is Love by Chris Baron

Josh has spent his entire childhood cooking with his grandmother. But now that her mind is slowly fading, Josh's grandmother feels that the only way to express her love is through food, which Josh dreads eating.

This story is similar to the previous one, with main characters having a bittersweet relationship with their family members. This time we don't get a message at the end, which is disappointing.

Rating: 3/5

Orion's Star by Catherine Adel West

After Orion's father abandoned her family when she was a young child, her mother seems to hate Orion.

This is an emotional read about healing from broken relationships and grief. It is a realistic story about a complicated family dynamic.

Rating: 4/5

Weightless by Sheena Boekweg

A fat girl, who after spending her whole life feeling guilty about her weight, is now needed to save the planet.

Set in space in a futuristic setting, this science fiction story would have made a perfect novel. The romance and characters were interesting to read and I would have liked this one to be longer.

Rating: 4/5

Outside Pitch by Kelly deVos

Hayley's mother catfishes a teenage boy, Jett, posing as Hayley.

Why is mothers pretending to be their daughters on the Internet popular now? Why does no one in this story find it problematic that a 40 year old woman catfishes a 17 year old online, pretending to be his girlfriend?

Rating: 2/5

Filling the Net by Monique Gray Smith

After Jacqueline's father passes away, her grieving mother moves the family across the country to a small town.

With a total "She's the Man" vibe, I don't understand why the mother has to move to cope with the situation. Her daughter has lost her father, an important figure in her life, why take the rest away from her? Besides, the guy did the bare minimum, not being sexist.

Rating: 3/5

A Perfect Fit by Jennifer Yen

Elodie is humiliated by her family and friends about her weight, supposedly done for "her sake".

I appreciated her cousin's support in finding the dress. I would have liked this story to focus even more on the mother-daughter relationship.

Rating: 3/5

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Rebecca Sky

A girl struggles to get her dream job, which unfortunately comes with a BMI elimination criteria.

I liked how it talked about Australian wildfires, which is important as it is an ongoing issue.

Rating: 3/5

Letters to Charlie Brown by Francina Simone

A girl who feels disoriented by life, and confides her problems to her fictional friend, Charlie Brown.

Writing fictional characters is an interesting coping mechanism and I liked the premise. I didn't like that our protagonist blames the girl in the Scarlet Letter for what happened to her. There are a lot of sexist comments in this story.

Rating: 2/5

love spells and lavender lattes by amanda lovelace

Set in an alternate reality, a girl tries to undo a love spell cast by her friend.

To begin with, I'm not a big fan of the writing style. I love lyrical writing, I find it beautiful, but this story just didn't sit well with me. The use of no capitalization and the substitution of the word "and" for "&" bothered me.

Rating: 2/5

Breathe You In by Hillary Monahan

This was an interesting retelling of The Little Mermaid. I liked the concept of how the earthmakers should die with increasing pleasure, not increasing terror.

Rating: 4/5

Unpleasant Surprises by Linda Camacho

Olivia's life is turned upside down when her best friend suddenly loses weight and becomes more popular.

Advocating against fatphobia in no way excuses body-shaming. Girl-on-girl hatred is normalized here and is utterly devastating.

Rating: 3/5

Letting Go by Renee Watsonp

4 cousins empower each other to stand their ground and take on the world.

I loved the lyrical way this mini story is written. This was heartwarming and so beautiful.

Rating: 4/5

Overall, I would not purchase this book, but it was an interesting read.

TW: Fatphobia, Body shaming, Bullying, Death, Car accident, Death of parent, Racism, Eating disorder, Genocide.
Profile Image for Archita Mitra.
417 reviews43 followers
July 8, 2021
An anthology of short stories with fat main characters is my jam, and I am here for it. Reviewing each short story separately, as I read:

1. Guilt Trip by Claire Kann is the story of 15-year old Mia, who has struggled with her weight throughout her life. She looks nothing like her ballet prima donna mother or her elder sister, and despite being a good bass performer has always preferred the shadows to the spotlight, until she gets a chance to perform with her favourite band. With a little help from her family, Mia might finally get the courage to grab the spotlight. I however did not like the titular 'guilt trip' tactic that the sisters use. It seems too much like manipulation.

Rating: 3 stars

2. Shatter Me by Cassandra Newbould: Bri has died seven times. Each time she was saving her sister Rae's life from Rae's ex-boyfriend Adrian, who tries to hit her with his car. Each time Bri watches as her sister weeps and makes excuses for her toxic lover, even as she bleeds to death on the sidewalk. Each time Bri has one regret: that she didn't live her life as fully as she wanted because she was afraid people would make fun of her for being fat.
Honestly this story started off on an intriguing note, but then decided to veer off into the ridiculous. All in all, time spent reading this is time wasted.

Rating: 1 star

3. Prom Queers by Alex Gino is the story of Sam, a non-binary, fat middle-school student whose best friend just asked them to go to prom with them. Now the problem facing Sam, like many other kids in America, is what to wear to prom that they feel good in.

"They half-heartedly looked through the skirts. Again, only a handful in an extra-large, and those were long and dark, like the people who had worn them were trying to avoid having bodies at all. Nothing exciting. Nothing for Sam."

This story highlights in simple prose the problems fat teens and children face while searching for clothes made by an industry that tells them to hate their bodies. One of my favourite stories in this anthology so far.

Rating: 5 stars

4. Dupatta Diaries by Nafiza Azad is the story of Jamilah, a desi fat girl, which touched my desi fat heart. Since childhood Jamilah has been mocked by her relatives, and shamed by her mother. Her mother forces her on a very strict diet that never seems to help, and almost all kinds of delicious food is forbidden to her.

Butter chicken has too many calories, and I, having the audacity to be fat don't have the right to eat it.

Jamilah hides through life feeling like a disappointment to her family, next to her beautiful slim cousin. After a humiliating shopping trip where nothing seems to fit Jamilah, she comes across a magical dupatta that helps her own her body, and stand up to the haters. There is also a bittersweet message of familial love and forgiveness interwoven in the fabric of this magical yarn.

Rating: 5 stars

5. Food is Love by Chris Baron, is another story of family and forgiveness. Josh has spent his entire childhood cooking with his grandmother, from whom he inherited his love for food. At the same time, he has also been subjected to taunts and snide remarks from his grandmother about his weight. But now that her mind is slowly slipping away, Josh's grandmother feels the only way she can express her love is through her food, often in the form of dishes with high-calorie count, that Josh is afraid to eat.

"How is food love when every bit I take is eye-rolled and examined by my own grandmother?"

Josh's bittersweet relationship with his grandmother is mirrored in his bittersweet relationship with his weight.

Rating: 3 stars

6. Orion's Star by Catherine Adel West is the story of Orion and her journey to her dreams. Her father abandoned her family when she was a toddler, and has been an absent parental figure throughout her life. Her mother seems to hate Orion - all her comments are degrading and humiliating, especially when it comes to Orion's weight. Her grandmother is fighting a terminal illness. All Orion wants is the space to be herself, to live her dreams fully, with her family by her side.

"All the curves people say aren't pretty, but I still see beauty. I see success."

Rating: 3.5 stars

7. Weightless by Sheena Boekweg is the story of a fat girl, who has spent her entire life feeling guilty of the excess space she takes up, but when the future of her entire planet is at stake, her brilliant mind may be the only thing able to save everyone. Set in space in a futuristic setting, our protagonist must find a way to get around her insecurities and save her planet from destruction. The romance angle was really cute!

Rating: 4 stars

8. Outside Pitch by Kelly deVos was a hot mess of a story. Hayley, our plus size soft-ball star athlete, has a mother who has issues .

Hayley's mom catfishes a teenager, Jett, pretending to be Hayley. Then she goes on to contact a television reality show, Ferret Out , to come film the 'confrontation' between her daughter and the teenage guy she was catfishing online, pretending to be her daughter. Then she skips town!
And this is not even the weirdest part of the story! The weirdest part is everyone, right from Hayley's grandmom to the sheriff to Jett is perfectly fine with a 40-year old catfishing a 17 year old online, pretending to be his girlfriend. Jett still wants to come down and get to know Hayley, because he is a movie buff who believes they are 'meant to be'. And somehow Hayley's mom is the good person in this drama because all she wanted was to find a boyfriend for her teenage daughter, who has always been so busy with sports and academic work that she showed no interest in dating!

Rating: 2 stars

9. Filling the Net by Monique Gray Smith is the story of Jacqueline. After her father suddenly passes away, her grieving mother moves the family across the country to a small town. Jacqueline has never really fit anywhere except the ice hockey rink. She is a fantastic goalie, a passion she inherited from her father, but when she tries to get into the local ice-hockey team, she finds herself strongly opposed by the all-male team who do not want an Indian girl in their team.

Rating: 3 stars

10. A Perfect Fit by Jennifer Yen, is the story of Elodie who suffers silently but terribly from her family and friends' taunts about her weight, allegedly made for 'her sake'.
"In a world of tens, I'm just a too. Too tall, too fat, too smart, too shy."

When her cousin convinces her to attend the school prom with her, Elodie agrees on one condition: she must find a perfect dress which makes her feel comfortable and beautiful. This, however, is easier said than done; especially when throughout her life Elodie has been told she is too fat to wear ball gowns or sleeveless dresses, exactly the type of dresses she admires the most. Cute story, but a little long-winded.

Rating: 3 stars

11. Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Rebecca Sky is a cute, short story about a girl struggling to get her dream job. But unfortunately it comes with a BMI elimination criterion, and she will have to prove to all that she truly is the best person for the job.

Rating: 4 stars

12. Letters to Charlie Brown by Francina Simone is an epistolary short story about a girl who feels knocked off course by life, and confides her problems to a fictional friend. A very sweet premise but the execution was rather 'meh'.

Rating: 2.5 stars

13. love spells and lavender lattes by amanda lovelace was one of my most anticipated stories in the anthology because I do like her 'Insta-poetry' books, but what a disappointment this story was! Set in an alternate reality where technology, magic, knights, witches, and minimum-wage coffee shop jobs all exist at the same time, it is the story of a girl trying to undo a love spell cast by her friend. Nothing about the story made sense, and the ending was the worst.

Rating: 1 star

14. Breathe You In by Hillary Monahan is a dark Little Mermaid retelling that showed a lot of promise - I would love to read more stories about sirens - but ends too soon and without any major conflict.

Rating: 3 stars

15. Unpleasant Surprises by Linda Camacho is the story of Olivia whose life is thrown upside down when her best friend suddenly loses weight and starts hanging out with the 'cool kids'. Olivia is afraid this means she will no longer be her friend. It was a cute teenage friendship story but I found the main character too self-obsessed .

Rating: 2.5 stars

16. Letting Go by Renee Watson is the story of four cousins who empower each other to stand tall and face the world. I loved it but it did read more like a short blog post or magazine article than a story.

Rating: 4 stars
Profile Image for Kari.
685 reviews37 followers
April 23, 2021
Just what this world needs more of; diversity. And that doesn’t just mean race, religion, class but also something that has been affecting youth and adults to their inner core; and that is body diversity. This book is one of the few books I’ve seen that deals with body positivity, acceptance and also unfortunately those people that induce the fat shaming. But to be able to hear 16 stories about body diversity from characters that are fat themselves is a breath of fresh of air. It allows young adults to not be so critical on themselves and instead learn self love and acceptance. Fat kids also need to see themselves portrayed in books featured as a main character; not just the funny sidekick, fat friend.

I hope this is a start to seeing more books with body positivity and to learn to silence the haters. Because everyone created is created in their own way and their uniqueness is beautiful.
119 reviews5 followers
November 24, 2021
It's hard to rate anthologies, especially this one, because several individual stories were good, and many more were mediocre or downright terrible. "love spells & lavender lattes" and "Letters to Charlie Brown" are undoubtedly the worst - just skip them, seriously, if you decide to read this. My favorites were "Breathe You In" and "Letting Go", and I also enjoyed "Orion's Star".

I really objected to the "fat girl realizes her own value and beauty because skinny, handsome boy likes her" plot that characterized several of the stories. Aren't there better ways to realize your own self-worth than some guy falling in love with you and convincing you that you really are worthy of affection? There was also a whole lot of internalized fatphobia, which is certainly an important story to tell, but I could see how it could be very triggering and tiring for many readers to read repeatedly.

Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend.
379 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2021
I’ll go with a rating of 2.5 stars rounded up.
I had great difficulty putting a rating on a book like this that is a collection of stories because some short stories that were okay (e.g. letters to Charlie Brown was one of the cuter ideas) but others short stories, like Shattered, were confusing and tougher to read, and they left me kind of wondering whether to even continue reading.

I went into the book thinking it would be a bit more of a celebration of all types of bodies and spread a bit more joy and body positivity, but to be honest I didn’t really enjoy the book, felt confused by the various genres of each short story and I’m not sure it accomplished what they set out to accomplish. True, each main character is a fat main character and all of them touched on that, and in their stories found a way to lift themselves up, or overcome a fear or challenge… but still I struggled with some of the stories and I guess I expected to be more inspired. Kudos to the great variety of diversity and lgbtq+ representation in the collection of stories.

Thanks #NetGalley, the authors and publisher for the chance to read and review.
Profile Image for Ksenia.
782 reviews193 followers
February 16, 2021
The sign of a good story collection: I want full-length novels from these stories and find out what else happens to everyone!
Profile Image for Molly.
464 reviews7 followers
July 17, 2021
i'm glad this collection exists, but i was really fooled by the cover/blurb: these are not all about "living fabulously fat." many of the characters encounter fatphobia or are working through their body image, relationship to food, personal style and fashion, eating habits, etc., in really emotional, heartbreaking (and potentially triggering?) ways.

they aren't all sad, there are some fun moments - with the flavor of early 2000s romcoms, some of the stories were cute and straightfoward. however, this also meant that they wrapped up very conveniently or felt rushed/underdeveloped. i was unsettled that so many ended by hinting at romance between a main girl character and a random guy side character when the focus of the story had been the girl's personal journey unrelated to romance.

overall these stories read to me not as 'glorious' and 'fabulous' but rather a mixed bag of sad and hopeful. i love that all of our main characters are fat, but centering them in this book does not lead to 'celebration' but instead, i would say, to gently optimistic realism.

Guilt Trip by Claire Kann / 3.5
straightforward fun story about family and support - catastrophe and bad luck strike at the worst time, when Mia needs to get to a concert because she has won the opportunity to perform onstage with her favorite band, and she blames the bad luck on her sister's fiance

Shatter by Cassandra Newbould / 2.5
not sure i totally understood what was going on in this one - i recommend if you like weird, unexplained elements in fiction and groundhog-day-style time loops

Prom Queers by Alex Gino / 3
sweet story about a nonbinary 8th grader, Sam, searching for a perfect prom outfit with help from queer DIY-ing neighbors who live in the apartment above them and a nonbinary friend who loves to thrift

Dupatta Diaries by Nafiza Azad / 5
made me cry - a really tender story about an Indian girl, Jamilah, eating out and going clothing shopping with her mom and cousin. the story focuses on her body image and her relationship with her mother (& her mom's own body image and eating habits). featured the gimmick of a talking article of clothing that definitely felt straight out of an early 2000s movie but despite this i really loved this story and think a lot of people will find it relatable in its discussion of how parents, often unwittingly, project harmful body image/relationships with food/eating habits onto their children, and what needs to be done to heal from that

Food is Love by Chris Baron / 3.5
Josh works as a waiter and wants to be a chef like his Jewish grandmother. his grandmother is currently experiencing memory loss which causes him to reminisce on and re-experience the mixed messages she gave him about his body and food while he was growing up, and then later at work an encounter with some customers and a conversation with one of the chefs push him to rethink things. i'm not sure the ending worked for me, but i liked where the story was going with its depiction of those relatives who are highly critical of your appearance but also make you delicious food and want you to enjoy it because, to them, food is love

Orion's Star by Catherine Adel West / 5
really loved this story about a Black teen, Orion, with divorced parents who dreams of being a hollywood director. she lives with her mom, who is often very critical of her, and in the story she visits her father over a break to work on a film project for school. Orion wants to develop her relationship with him, but it's hard to do so because of how distant and unreliable he has been over the years. i found this story to be both heartfelt and realistic in how it treated complicated family dynamics and the ways we keep or give up life dreams due to circumstance or society's expectations of what we are capable or not capable of

Weightless by Sheena Boekweg / 4
fun space scifi!! didn't mind the romance in this one, where an incredible teen mathematician gets sent to space with some other teens in a super selective program to try to solve the air pollution crisis on their home planet

Outside Pitch by Kelly deVos / 4
high school star softball pitcher whose family runs a truck-stop diner gets set up with a guy by her mother through a weird catfishing scenario. wasn't into the romance but loved the sports and the pie-making and the diner and the smalltown vibes!!

Filling the Net by Monique Gray Smith / 5
girl's family moves after the death of her father and she has to prove herself as a goalie on the boy's hockey team in her new town. again loved the sports!! and i really appreciated and related to the discussion of Jacqueline's family's grief, especially with how loving hockey was something Jacqueline shared with her father

A Perfect Fit by Jennifer Yen / 4.5
Elodie's mother and aunt are both petite so they run a specialized small-sizes boutique called "the perfect fit" that she works at, meanwhile Elodie is searching for the perfect prom dress. i appreciated how supportive her cousin was in their dress search and also felt the mother-daughter relationship was done well - the dialogue between Elodie and her mom felt super realistic. this story did feel gimmicky when Elodie was imagining people in the mirror saying negative comments to her while she was trying on dresses, and wasn't a fan of the romance element at the end. i really wish this story would have ended focusing on her relationship with her mom because i found those moments to be very poignant

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Rebecca Sky / 3
Maxie enters a competition to be sent to volunteer at the front lines of the australian wildfires, which is important to her because her mother (who passed away when Maxie was little) was from australia and Maxie is a firefighter. again i wasn't a fan of the romance element - the narrative kept hinting that her guy best friend was into her and they had this "that's my girl"/"i'm my own girl" inside joke i found to be a little annoying/outdated. overall fun and upbeat and the competition was exciting to read about!

Letters to Charlie Brown by Francina Simone / 3
lighthearted, mostly funny story about a girl who unpacks a tumultuous time in her life (boys, drama on the bus, moving houses, feeling mediocre at playing flute, etc.) by writing letters to Charlie Brown

love spells & lavender lattes by amanda lovelace / 2
girl working at a cafe in a fairytale world that also has modern day technology. one of the patrons ends up in love with her under a spell and they journey to a crone in the wood to fix the spell. i personally found the tone to be inconsistent, the writing style a tad over-the-top, and the ending felt like a fake-out. i hope people who like instagram poetry will enjoy this, though?

Breathe You In by Hillary Monahan / 4
little mermaid retelling with a baller ending!!

Unpleasant Surprises by Linda Camacho / 3.5
teen girl comes back after a summer away visiting family in Puerto Rico to find that her best friend has lost a lot of weight over the summer, and she worries this will affect their relationship while everything else is changing as they start high school. i was worried this would be cliche/not go in a direction i liked based on the premise but was pleasantly surprised (haha) with how it ended

Letting Go by Renée Watson / 4.5
really sweet story about a Black girl and her cousins celebrating their sixteenth birthdays at the beach. this story had such wonderful language and i especially loved the descriptions of the ocean and the waves, including this quote: "The ocean is big enough for my body. // Whenever I am in the Pacific my body feels fragile. And it never feels fragile, delicate. But in the ocean, it is easily knocked over by waves, pushed by the wind. This is why I love swimming, love being in the water. I do not fit in most places, but in the ocean there is room and room." (378)
Profile Image for Mirjam.
391 reviews13 followers
October 28, 2021
I do hate to say I was incredibly disappointed by this anthology. I appreciate what it's trying to do -- or at least what it says it's trying to do, excuse my metonymy -- but every single story followed the exact same pattern: character, who happens to be fat, experiences a lot of body-shaming all the way up until the very end of the story, at which point they magically and momentarily discover happiness. The overall tone was very preachy, "body-shaming is bad!" and such. My expectation (and hope) was that these stories would be about characters who just so happen to be fat, wherein the focus isn't their weight or size. Often it feels as though every single story out there featuring a fat character is all about the fact that they're fat -- it's the only important thing about them. I was really hoping that an anthology featuring exclusively [clown voice] Hashed Tag Own Voices [end clown voice] stories would be better, but unfortunately not.
Profile Image for Panda Incognito.
2,856 reviews52 followers
October 22, 2021
Do you ever hate-read something not because you WANT it to be terrible, but because you know that it is and you want to watch that train wreck in slow motion?

I read this new YA short story collection from the library last night, and it definitely lived up to the negative advance reviews. We have three core problems here, and they are deceptive marketing, bizarre and rushed character arcs, and unsatisfying use of the short story medium. An additional problem is heavy-handed, preachy content about social issues, but this only affected some of the stories, and wasn't pervasive.

Now, to address the wildly deceptive marketing, let's revisit the book's premise:

"Fat girls and boys and nonbinary teens are: friends who lift each other up, heroes who rescue themselves, big bodies in space, intellects taking up space, and bodies looking and feeling beautiful. They express themselves through fashion, sports and other physical pursuits, through food, and music, and art. They are flirting and falling in love. They are loving to themselves and one another. With stories that feature fat main characters starring in a multitude of stories and genres, and written by authors who live these lives too, this is truly a unique collection that shows fat young people the representation they deserve."

About.... four of these stories give fat young people the representation they deserve. The premise and cover promise readers an uplifting collection of stories where large teens enjoy life, love themselves, and are free to be their whole selves without living in body shame or feeling like they are incomplete or unlovable unless they lose weight, but the majority of the short stories revolve around issues with hurtful family dynamics, unsolicited advice, emotional pain and self-rejection, and hurtful comments from others. There isn't anything wrong with the Own Voices authors writing about pain common to their experiences, but it is VERY WRONG to write a whole bunch of depressing stories about fat kids who are suffering and then claim that this is a stellar collection of uplifting, fun, and empowering stories.

That is the primary issue with this short story collection, but many of the stories leave much to be desired regardless. There were a few that I genuinely liked, and "Weightless," the science fiction space travel story, won me over because of the genuine creativity, mostly satisfying short-form world building, and the main character's completely believable use of math as a lens through which to see the world. I am terrible at math, but I have a deep appreciation for it, and one of my own fictional characters recites prime numbers as a tool for dealing with his anxiety. As soon as the girl in this story started doing the same thing, I completely bought in, and even though the romance didn't interest me, the story as a whole works very well. This one involves some topics that could be triggering for teens, such as obsessive calorie counting, but it fits with the character's math-focused mind, and the story provides a compelling view of her transformation away from making that the focus of her life. This story feels satisfying and complete, and the message is inherent to the plot and does not feel preachy.

Unfortunately, many of the other stories are rushed and unsatisfying, with bizarre elements that make no sense, shallow caricatures for villains, and character arcs that feel completely unbelievable, since the author is just trying to slap something inspirational on the end of a depressing story. Only some of these stories even felt like short stories, with a clear, fluid beginning, middle, and end. Others felt like the author was dumping you into the middle of a novel with minimal explanation, and then cutting things short. So many of these felt unsatisfying, required more explanation, or needed more time to build up to an ending that felt authentic.

The story by the series editor is genuinely baffling. She tried to tackle WAY too many issues at once, and the story became so unreadable that I skimmed through the rest. I also couldn't make it through the amanda lovelace story. This wasn't a surprise to me, since I find the author's Instagram poetry unbearable, but the story itself was convoluted and unreadable, even aside from the pretentious writing style bereft of capitals and full of ampersands. I could barely comprehend what I was reading, the dialogue made me cringe, and the story genuinely felt like a parody of that kind of writing.

Some people may enjoy reading this book for the worthwhile stories, but I wouldn't recommend it. The authors include lots of incredibly depressing content, and unless someone wants to read a bunch of sad stories with a small amount of light quickly added at the end, they should avoid this collection. The marketing is extremely misleading. There are a few fun stories about fat teens living their lives with a sense of joy and completeness, but these stories are few and far between. The vast majority deal with body shame, hurtful comments from relatives, indifferent or negative feelings towards oneself, and thematically unrelated sad content such as a sister's domestic violence situation, coping with divorce and parental detachment, and a grandmother's dementia. If someone wants to read sad stories, they are here in abundance, but if someone is going based on the cover and premise, this book is probably not for them.
1 review
February 16, 2023
TW: fatphobia , ed

Story 1: Guilt Trip - Claire Kann
While I felt that the beginning was strong Mia is just not a loveable character. She was incredibly rude to Micheal for no reason. And then she suddenly becomes a loving family member towards him right at the end? It made no sense to me. ⭐ 1.5/5

Story 2: Shatter - Cassandra Newbould
The story was hard to understand, the concept of having a day on loop is cool, but it was poorly executed. That being said, I do love the main character and her personality. I didn’t understand the Adrian and Tino dynamic, it felt thrown in and unnecessary. In conclusion, Sienna is a girlboss and Rae is a horrible influence on her sister. ⭐ 2/5

Story 3: Prom Queers - Alex Gino
This is my favorite one I have read up to this point. I love the queer representation, however the queerness was more emphasized than how Sams size affects them. While anywhere else I would be completely fine with this it felt slightly out of place in the context of the point of the book. By far the most confusing part was the idea of an 8th grade prom, I just imagined it as a senior prom so my brain didn’t explode. And due to the amount of freedom they have, it’d make more sense for it to be a senior prom anyway. But to end on a good note, Jess is the queer mother I always wanted. ⭐ 3.5/5

Story 4: Dupatta Diaries - Nafiza Azad
This is not a story of ✨ living fabulously fat ✨ The fatphobic thoughts that interject every moment of the story is quite untasteful. I understand why they are there but they’re completely overused. The whole “supernatural piece of cloth thing” was very unexpected and honestly made no sense. Her mom was incredibly rude and had nothing of real value to add to the story, the fact she had a rough childhood did not induce the sympathy for her that the author intended it too. The end doesn’t even seem happy, she has declared that she won’t starve herself while crying and running upstairs? Happy ever after I guess. ⭐ 1/5

Story 5: Food is love - Chris Baron
Huh. This is another one of an overweight person starving themselves and then magickally having a revelation that cures their ed. Josh has little personality and it was honestly boring. Not much more to say. ⭐ 2/5

Story 6: Orion’s Star - Catherine Adel West
Had little to do with Orion’s size but I thought it was a very cute story. ⭐ 4/5

Story 7: Weightless - Sheena Boekweg
I loved this one, I liked the sci-fi theme it had to it. I found the main character to be loveable, I honestly want more. My only compliant is the mention of ed in the context of a book about “living fabulously fat.” ⭐ 5/5

Story 8: Outside Pitch - Kelly deVos
I have little interest in sports or romance stories. So, I had little interest in this in the first place. However I appreciate that this story is actually about a girl “living fabulously fat” and addressing her size while also showing how she doesn’t hate it. So far this story seems to be the only one that truly strikes out to me to fit the whole purpose of the book. ⭐ 4/5

Story 9: Filling The Net - Monique Gray Smith
I typically don’t enjoy stories surrounding sports but I loved this little story. It was one of the few so far that actually fit as a short story. No complaints. ⭐ 5/5

Story 10: A Perfect Fit - Jennifer Yen
Size 12 isn’t fat, especially for her height. ⭐ 0/5

Story 11: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire - Rebecca Sky
The character is easy to love and the story really was about “living fabulously fat.” Which I appreciated. Don’t have much more to say. ⭐ 4/5

Story 12: Letters To Charlie Brown - Francia Simone
This plot was incredibly confusing and it took me being over halfway through the story to figure out her age range. But, I really do like the concept, the execution could’ve been better but it holds up pretty well compared to some of the other stories in this book. ⭐ 3.5/5

Story 13: love spells & lavender lattes - amanda lovelace
this one is written entirely lowercase. do you see how annoying it is to read this. how pointless and not cute this is. how its distracting to the point the story is not worth your time. the technology and magick thing could’ve been done better. ⭐ 1/5

Overall: Yeah I’m done with this. This was a great concept with poor execution. It would’ve been much better if they had cut the fluff and kept it the better stories.
Profile Image for Jess.
133 reviews79 followers
June 30, 2021
So, I'm very back and forth on how I want to rate this book overall because I liked some of these stories but a lot of these stories left me in a weird mental space or confused. Take this subjectively as usual. I think the idea of this book was good, but I was thinking this was going to go more towards body neutrality and acceptance, but it mostly spent time putting us right in the lens of fatphobic trauma. As someone who is fat, it was a lot of triggering events written over and over again. People need to know the experiences we face, I won't diminish that. I was under the impression that these stories were going to come from an empowerment focus (some of them do, but most don't). Story titles in Bold means that was a story I really liked. Go into this book knowing that all of the stories come with a TW for fatphobia, fatphobic comments, body shaming, and negative self talk. If there is a TW related to other matters, that'll be in the individual story review parts.

Guilt Trip:
Music involved story line. MC trying to get out of the shadow of her sister. The guilt trip idea was bland but the ending was good!

TW for car accident and bodily injury. I liked the idea of doing a revolving plot line with that "relive the same day" thing. It was interesting. Breakdancing MC.

Dupatta Diaries:
TW for calorie talk, food restriction, and internalized fat phobia. This story was very upsetting but did have a "stand up for yourself" moment in the end.

Food is Love:
TW for food restriction and dementia. I didn't really get the story but it was okay. Ended on a sweet note.

Orion's Star:
This was really good. This read more like a highlight to what could be a full novel.

TW for calories counting and food restriction, personal body injury. We got some Sci-Fi action in this one! It went in an entirely different direction then what I was expecting. Super cute and a good ending.

Outside Pitch:
TW for parental abandonment. This reads like a movie. I really like it. This has that 90s rom com trope (somewhat gender bent) with sports and movie fanatics. The only thing I didn't like is the body shaming the MC did towards the skinnier character. We know what it feels like, we shouldn't be doing it to someone else.

Filling the Net:
TW for death of a parent. This story involves a fresh start, new school, hockey challenge plot line. It was short, simple, and fun.

A Perfect Fit:
TW for eating disorders (with hallucinations). She's trying to find a dress for prom. This story was straight up depressing with a sprinkle of a somewhat happy ending.

Liar Liar Pants on Fire:
I liked this one but I wouldn't say I liked it as much as other ones. This was a firefighting competition for Australia with a little friends to lovers action.

Letters to Charlie Brown:
This is exactly what it sounds like. It's a "finding your place" story told in letters to an imaginary friend. I was pretty confused reading this one but I did like some of the lyrical writing. I honestly can't tell you that I know what was happening during this. It blurred realities a lot. I couldn't tell what was real.

Love Spells & Lavender Lattes:
This was a super cheesy witch tale. It read like old kingdom times with squires but then had cellphones. It took me out of the setting with it being mixed modern BUT it was still very cute and I liked it. The dedication made me laugh pretty hard.

Breathe You In:
TW for death. THIS WAS MY FAVORITE STORY IN THIS WHOLE BOOK. This was a little mermaid retelling with a fat MC mermaid. The ending took me completely by surprise and I was screeching. So so good.

Unpleasant Surprises:
This was a best friend squabble turned understanding. This was very sweet and relatable. I enjoyed it.

Letting Go:
Extremely Short. This was heartwarming and made me laugh.
5 reviews
October 8, 2021
Hello, I am a reporter from Every Body Shines company and today I will be interviewing a girl named Jamilah who’s story has also been told in Every Body Shines by Cassandra Newbould. She has problems with her self esteem and her family. However, she is trying her best to change herself. She along with fifteen other people who also have problems with their body image share similar stories where they have to face the negativity their body brings them. Right now I am walking to Jamilah’s house. It is around nighttime and my baggy black jacket is getting soaked as I walk through the trickling rain. I can see the butter-like light coming from not far away. It seems warm and lively in the house. I knock on the damp door. An Indian girl with a red dupatta on her head opens the door. Her insecure smile makes me smile back at her. She invites me to her couch, her mom brings me fresh fruit and I begin my interview.

Q. What is your name and describe yourself in 3 sentences.

A. (She opened her mouth and then closed it. She finally said) My name is Jamilah and I am a teenager. I guess I could say I am fat, as you can clearly see. I am also always hungry for food. The third word would be that I have low self esteem. Whenever I try to find clothes, people give me disgusted looks all the time and sometimes hours of shopping are wasted. It makes me feel guilty for the body size I have.

Q. Does everyone around you like you or fear you or ignore you?

A. Everyone around me ignores me. When I walk down the street, everyone gives me stares and all I just want to do is hide and curl up into a ball but I can’t because an elephant is always an elephant.

Q. Are you someone who is optimistic or pessimistic about life?

A. Pessimistic. Do I really need to explain that? Just look at my state of mind right now.

Q. What do you absolutely hate doing?

A. I absolutely hate shopping. My mother and my pretty and skinny cousin, Shahin can buy all these pretty clothes in minutes while I have to go shopping for hours just to get a shabby piece of clothing that was specifically put together for a person like me.

Q. What do you fear the most?

A. (She looked around the room, thinking of an answer, wondering if she should say what she really wanted to say) I fear that people will exclude me from everything because of my body shape. I mean like hello, I am a human too with feelings. I too also have opinions and depressing moments. (Her voice got really small)

Q. Do you ever want to change your body in the future?

A. Yes, because my mom, Shahin and her skinny mother always comment about it and it’s annoying. Like why can’t I be skinny for once? Did I do something wrong for eating? (She was fired up by now)

Q. Is there someone whom you wish you were closer to? If so, what is stopping you from getting closer to them?

A. My mom I suppose. (She’s calm now) She’s the family member I have to deal with most of the time. Her hurtful words are stopping me from getting close to her though. She just hates me for being super-sized. (She eyed her mom who was watching from the kitchen)

Q. Who would you turn to if you were desperate for help? Why?

A. (She eats a piece of fruit first before answering the question which she’s been eyeing for the whole interview) My dupatta. It’s the closest thing to me, heh. It gives me advice and gives me confidence in a way that I can’t explain in words.

Q. Has your perspective changed about yourself ever since your mother told her experience?

A. Yes but also no. I can’t forgive her for trashing my body but I can understand her but I can’t forgive her. I just can’t.

Q. Is there a time in your life that you would go back to?

A. (She thought about it for a while and answered) I would go back to when I was little. I want to feel the same as others. I want to be skinny for once and cherish it.

Q. Do you have any inspiring or last words to say to the people watching this interview?

A. I actually do. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like because the inside is way more important.

Thank you very much Jamilah for your advice and answers! If you want to learn more about Jamilah and other stories similar to her, then I would recommend Every Body Shines by Cassandra Newbould. It gives insider information of sixteen people with different body sizes following their heart and stretching out into the world with confidence and positivity. It might become repetitive though because each story talks about the main person, then how everyone body shames them and then at the very end they finally find happiness. Nonetheless, if you’re interested in multiple stories being told in one book, you will enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Bec.
594 reviews56 followers
July 6, 2021
Trigger warnings:

I loved everything that this anthology stands for and what fiction like this means for young readers. But sadly, as a whole, this collection largely felt repetitive when considering the majority of the stories. Many of the stories follow a typical plot of a young fat main character overcoming and/or being accepted in the face of society's ugly view of larger bodies.

But this doesn't mean that there weren't some absolute standouts that I truly want you to read. In particular, Shatter is a stunning sci-fi short that tackles that becomes so much more hard-hitting than you would originally expect. Or Breathe You In, which may be one of my favourite fairytale retellings of all time.

Newbould has put together something that is critical for all young readers, even if not every story hit me the way I wanted. If you are looking for your next anthology, this should definitely be considered.

Individual ratings
Guilt Trip by Claire Kann 3.5/5
Shatter by Cassandra Newbould 4.5/5
Prom Queers by Alex Gino 4/5
Dupatta Diaries by Nafiza Azad 3/5
Food is Love by Chris Baron 3.5/5
Orion's Star by Catherine Adel West 3/5
Weightless by Sheena Boekweg 3/5
Outside Pitch by Kelly deVos 2/5
Filling the Net by Monique Gray Smith 3/5
A Perfect Fit by Jennifer Yen 3/5
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Rebecca Sky 3.5/5
Letters to Charlie Brown by Francina Simone 1/5
love spells & lavender lattes by amanda lovelace 4.5/5
Breathe You In by Hillary Monahan 5/5
Unpleasant Surprises by Linda Camacho 3/5
Letting Go by Renee Watson 4/5

Note: Review copy received from NetGalley. This does not impact opinions within this review.

blog trigger warning databasemore links

Happy reading! ❤
Profile Image for Emma.
1,186 reviews
February 21, 2022
To be honest, this book was kind of a disappointment to me.
Somehow, I was expecting an intersectional anthology about "living fabulously fat" to be a sort of feel-good book. Instead, it was riddled with fatphobia, sometimes vicious one at that, often from the own parents of the main characters.

Now I live in the real world and I know you can't tell the stories of fat teenagers without dealing with fatphobia, so I'm not saying Every Body Shines was wrong to go there, but it definitely made me feel sad a lot and again, it was not what I was in the bargain for when I picked that book. I realize this is a "me" problem though.

Then, there were so many stories about clothes and how it's close to impossible to find clothes that fit when you're a plus-sized teenager. I've been a fat teenager and I know what a hardship it is and how overwhelming it can get, but still... did we need so many stories about that same theme (no idea how this book has been curated but it felt repetitive to me). Instead, couldn't we have talked about how hard it is to find a doctor with medical supplies adapted to fat bodies? About how you can't sit in the chairs of so many many places, the trendier the place is, the less accessible their seats are? About how there are so many joyrides you can't ride because your body just won't fit? There are so many other things to talk about, it's not ALL about clothes (even though, again, clothing is definitely a big issue).

There were 2 stories that stood out for me:
1) Outside Pitch by Kelly deVos
2) Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire by Rebecca Sky

They made me feel good and their storylines were definitely different, I'm going to have a look at the other books their authors have written.
Profile Image for Cabria ShaNae.
89 reviews24 followers
April 7, 2022
I’m conflicted on whether this should be a 2 or 3 star rating. For now, I’ll leave it at 2.5.

I was so excited about this book. I’d been looking forward to reading it for almost a year. Fat people of all colors and orientations getting to exist fabulously? Sign me up. But I really almost gaslit myself about this book. I thought I misled myself for what this book was meant to be or that maybe my mental health for the day made me unable to “handle” some of the stories. But I’m glad I looked at other reviews because I’m not the only one who felt misled.

We were promised 16 stories about living fabulously fat, that this book celebrates body diversity and fat acceptance, etc etc. But only a few of the stories really seemed to inhabit that. I really thought that these would be stories where the characters being fat was just a part of them and they got to exist and be happy and be heroes and live and love and so on without society’s views of their fatness being the entire focus. But majority of these stories were not at all that. Most of the stories follow the same formula of the characters going through extreme and explicit fat shaming and fatphobia and taunting from kids at school or teammates or family or even themselves most of the story before eventually coming to some kind of realization that food isn’t bad or being fat isn’t disgusting at the last second. And while I appreciate the sentiment they were trying for in a few of the stories, it fell short often.

There were a few of the stories that did mostly as promised, which I did enjoy. I just hate how let down I am about this book. There are so many thoughts and feelings I don’t even know to fully convey all of it.
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