Showing posts with label fat representation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fat representation. Show all posts

Saturday, October 8, 2016

[Review] Holding Up the Universe - Jennifer Niven: Obesity and Prosopagnosia




In HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE, the world's fattest teen Libby, and Jack, who lives with prosopagnosia are sent to group counselling and community service.

What intrigued me: I was curious about Niven's books. The premise didn't necessarily pique my interest, I would've picked anything she'd release next.


Extraordinary writing and voice

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE certainly does bring a breath of fresh air into the genre with it's incredibly unique characters. From page 1 Niven is absolutely able to suck you into the story, to make you hear the characters' voices. 

She has an extraordinary feel for making characters speak aloud inside your head and make you forget that you are reading a fictional story, which undoubtedly shows that Niven is an insanely talented writer. However, it's the topic of choice that absolutely negates all of that for me and makes me disregard it almost completely when reviewing this.

Sensitivity is a necessity when you tell the stories of marginalized people.

When writing about marginalized identities, you have to be extra careful. There's just something about the tone of Niven's voice that irks me and makes me feel uncomfortable. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is told from the dual perspective of two teens who are obese and suffering from prosopagnosia (an illness that makes you unable to recognize faces) respectively. 

And both teens express extreme hatred towards themselves and their lives. Especially when you're including multiple teens who derive from "the norm", you shouldn't make them all hate themselves. This isn't how positivity works, this isn't the representation marginalized people are asking for. This story wasn't written for people who are obese or have prosopagnosia. 

All HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is teaching readers and teens who might live with the same illness that they should hate themselves. That they can only be loved by someone who is ill, too, if at all. I'm sure this isn't the intention, certainly not what Niven's trying to say, but this is exactly why it's so important to be nuanced and incredibly careful when tackling very real topics that affect real lives. 

In fact, I do think that to some extent this story (of course) is told for the shock value. It's oozing from the language Niven chooses to let their characters describe themselves. But I think we need to move past that. Stop telling the stories of marginalized people because it's shocking or seeminlgy "innovative". Start telling the stories of people who happen to be marginalized instead. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE certainly does not belong to the latter.

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE simply makes me uncomfortable. I couldn't enjoy the story, despite very skillfull writing and strong character voices, which I usually applaud authors for. If the topic was approached with more sensitivity, this could have the potential to become a fantastic masterpiece, but for me it absolutely falls flat the way it is and disappoints.



Additional Info

Published: October 4th 2016
Pages: 400
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN:  9780385755924

Synopsis:
"Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.  

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours."(Source: Goodreads)

How do you feel about fat/mentally-ill characters for shock value?

Continue Reading...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Recommendation: Nice Girls Endure - Chris Struyk-Bonn: Fat Rep, Anxiety, and Body Positivity


In NICE GIRLS ENDURE, everyone is telling Chelsea to start losing weight. When vicious bullies get violent, Chelsea has to make a choice: Endure or stand up to them.

What intrigued me: Beautiful cover and also fat representation, I love body positive books.

Lovely Characters

NICE GIRLS ENDURE is a very quiet, yet fascinating read. The writing and voice suck you in immediately and I was absolutely invested. I almost finished this in one sitting. 

Protagonist Chelsea is an incredibly lovable sweetheart that you can't help but fall a little in love with while reading. Her struggles are heartbreaking to read, but all the much more worth reading, because these things do happen in real life. It's such an important book that I will keep on recommending to people.

I suffered with Chelsea, I smiled about the friendship with the dorky and eccentric Melody, who wears strange homemade costumes and loves Chelsea so much. Their relationship is the heart of this book. I just wish I could be friends with her in real life. 

In general, Struyk-Bonn writes such fantastic character relationships. This is in my opinion the biggest strength of this fantastic book - the fact that her characters do seem extremely realistic and more importantly lovable. Chelsea's father, who always supports her is this fantastic role model, he's fat like her and absolutely unbothered by it and always tries to cheer her up. My heart aches just thinking about their wonderful loving relationship because it's such a moving highlight whenever they interact. 

Heartbreaking and Empowering

Because NICE GIRLS ENDURE is about fat representation and body positivity it also tackles difficult topics like abuse and bullying. Chelsea is never really uncomfortable in her body, there is this really great quote that I'll just paraphrase quickly. "She wasn't bothered by her weight, but by how much it bothered other people." 

This is essentially what you'll find in this book. A really strong protagonist that struggles with how much other people butt in on what she does with her body. It's heartbreaking. There is one pretty graphic scene (during the school dance) that I recommend you skip if you're triggered by rape scenarios and physical abuse. 

NICE GIRLS ENDURE doesn't kid around. It shows how ugly people can be on the inside. It's an incredibly powerful and empowering story that I love dearly and will keep on thinking about for weeks to come. An absolutely clear recommendation. 




Rating:

★★★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Yes. You need this book in your life. Read it.



Additional Info

Published: August 1st 2016
Pages: 256
Publisher: Switch Press
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781630790455

Synopsis:
"Chelsea Duvay is so many things. 

She's an avid musical lover, she's a gifted singer, and she has the most perfect, beautiful feet. But no one ever notices that. All they notice is Chelsea s weight. Daily, Chelsea endures endless comments about her appearance from well-meaning adults and cruel classmates. So she keeps to herself and just tries to make it through. 

Don't make waves. Don't draw attention. That's how life is for Chelsea until a special class project pushes the energetic and incessantly social Melody into Chelsea's world. As their unlikely friendship grows, Chelsea emerges from her isolated existence, and she begins to find the confidence to enjoy life. 

But bullies are bullies, and they remain as vicious as ever. One terrible encounter threatens to destroy everything Chelsea has worked so hard to achieve. Readers will be captivated by Chelsea s journey as she discovers the courage to declare her own beauty and self-worth, no matter what others might think."(Source: Goodreads)


Can you recommend some body positive reads?

Continue Reading...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...