Sandy's Reviews > The Downside of Being Charlie

The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
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Aug 27, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorite, ya, library
Read in August, 2012

10 stars!! Oh, to be Charlie. Charlie thought his senior year was his year to shine, his year to be noticed for what he really was, as he was tired of being Chunks. Chunks, the fat kid, the kid who never had a girlfriend, the kid people made fun of but this year turns out to be the year Charlie figures out there is more to life than just looks. His best buddy Ahmed tries to give Charlie the confidence he needs but Charlie needs more than confidence to get through the issues that are coming his way. His locker partner this year is Tanya Bates, a girl who loves confrontation and is not afraid to take a stand and just when things couldn’t get any worse, the issues at home are mounting. His mother hasn’t been home is months and his father, well Charlie hears something but is afraid to confront his father about it. Charlie love of photography gets lost in the shuffle as an important assignment is pushed to the back burner as he tries to get his life figured out. A new girl at school has sparked an interest in Charlie but she is also chasing after one of Charlie’s adversaries, is she only playing to see who comes out on top? Charlie thought that losing all the weight at fat camp would be the worst of his problems but that was only the beginning, but where can he find comfort? Charlie has no one to turn to and he doesn’t want anyone to know how messed up his life is so he resorts to the only comfort he feels he has: food. Ashamed of his behavior, Charlie starts to binge eat and this spiral behavior gets out of control. How long can this behavior last? How important is his senior year when he can’t even face another day.
I found myself laughing out loud as I read parts of this book since Charlie talks so open about his feelings and it sounds so much like a teenager. “I pictured myself panhandling on the streets for money to buy a box of Ho Hos, scrounging up a couple of bucks and heading to the nearest gas station to buy the crème-filled goodness. The clerk would recognize me and shake his head as I shoved it in my face, making grunting noises like a wild boar.” The situations and the relationships he has are so realistic and amazing that I can’t say enough about them. I had so many emotions reading this book as he struggles to adjust to the situations that he confronts. Charlie tries to keep his emotions in check and go with the flow, it is only when he lets go does he realize how he really feel and the honesty that the author is able to reflect in her writing is powerful and abrupt. I think it tells a great message.

This book talks about eating disorders so make sure you are able to handle that subject matter. There are a few swear words but nothing out of hand. You have to remember this is a book about a teenage boy in high school and they swear in high school. He thinks his life is a mess and he used to be picked on so take that into consideration.

There is one reference to drugs in the book but it was handled respectably. There is reference to sex as the characters talk about it as they are teenagers in high school.
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