Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard. Harder when your whole life is on fire, though. Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat. People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it's hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn't help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter. But there's one person who's always in Charlie's corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing--he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? Because it's time people did. A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.
Fat Chance, Charlie VegaFeatured
After a guy uses her to get to her best friend in the cruelest way, Charlie begins to take stock of her life and try to figure out who she wants to be and with whom she will surround herself. When this cute guy on whom she has a crush begins to show he likes her back, Charlie has a hard time believing it. However, once the begin dating, Charlie begins to find her confidence - only to have it crash when her BFF reveals something critical in the midst of a fight.
Now, Charlie must define herself on her own terms and decide how she will live her life and love herself for who she is.
What I loved: The themes of this book are really powerful. Charlie is an incredibly lovable and understandable character - she wants to be fully on board with the body positive movement, but it's tough when her mother leaves her weight loss shakes and makes passive-aggressive comments about her weight - and when the popular guys at school make cruel comments ("jokes") about it. Like so many teenagers, Charlie is trying to become her own person - a feat made tougher by the pressures of high school and the people around her.
Friendship is a major theme her, and I loved the relationships she has with the people around her, and especially Amelia. Their relationship isn't perfect, but for the most part, they are genuine, supportive, and there for each other. This was a definite highlight (amongst so many fantastic things). In terms of the romance, it was totally swoony, and I loved watching it come together. Love, in all its forms (friendship, romantic, cousins), is so beautifully portrayed here - complexities and all.
Charlie learns a lot throughout the book, and the process was quite thought-provoking and powerful. Her character growth throughout the story is really moving. She really blossoms, and I love that the romance she has does not define these changes, but that they ultimately come from within. Charlie feels so real, and she is someone I loved getting to know.
Final verdict: Authentic, profound, and full of great themes, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA is a fantastic YA contemporary about finding yourself and embracing and celebrating all of who you are. Highly recommend for fans of FRANKLY IN LOVE, MISS METEOR, I'LL BE THE ONE, and MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE.