Sophomore year has just begun, and Angie is miserable. Her girlfriend, KC, has moved away; her good friend, Jake, is keeping his distance; and the resident bully has ramped up an increasingly vicious and targeted campaign to humiliate her. An over-the-top statue dedication planned for her sister, who died in Iraq, is almost too much to bear, and it doesn’t help that her mother has placed a symbolic empty urn on their mantel. At the ceremony, a soldier hands Angie a final letter from her sister, including a list of places she wanted the two of them to visit when she got home from the war. With her mother threatening to send Angie to a “treatment center” and the situation at school becoming violent, Angie enlists the help of her estranged childhood friend, Jamboree. Along with a few other outsiders, they pack into an RV and head across the state on the road trip Angie’s sister did not live to take. It might be just what Angie needs to find a way to let her sister go, and find herself in the process.
Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo is one of those books that I feel so torn on, I read the synopsis on Net Galley and it sounded queer, body positive and fun. Exactly my typ of reading you’d think and while I loved the story, I have more than a few complaints about the book.
I’ll start with the things I didn’t like about this book, as the things I did like I think are more important in this case. The first was the writing style was extremely awkward and frustrating at times to understand with hyphenated phrases like “perfect-not-perfect”, “visibily-invisible” and “not-silent-silence” plaguing nearly every paragraph is was hard to comprehend what was actually trying to be conveyed.
This added to the repetitive referring to certain characters by these hyphenated nicknames made the overall book seem like it was trying too hard to connect with youth through language the writer thought would appeal. Which is made ironic by the fact that there is barely a pop culture reference that isn’t old enough to drink in the United States, every song, movie, or book mentioned is from the 1980’s or before, with the exclusion of the mention of John Hughes’s 2009 death.
Finally in my list of complaints is often Angie seems to have chubbily crossed the path with her pudgy neck and plump voice and, we get it she’s fat. While in the long run the character comes to happy place with her weight I felt overall the way it was written about at times was very humiliating as a fellow plus sized pal.
Luckily, once I adjusted to the awkward writing style and overcame the constant weight references I found much more about this book that I enjoyed than disliked.
First, the representation in this book is pretty great, we have a black girl, and Mexican characters who aren’t all stereotypes and taco eating. We have a character with a disability and real-life struggles around them, and a lot of talk around mental health in a more positive manner. Our main characters are 3 dimensional and have realistic flaws.
Angie herself is an interesting and compelling character, you want to protect her and push her to do something all at once, and the plot is all excruciatingly believable. No epic implausible trips across the country, nor despicable mothers who suddenly change their mind about everything. Everything just seems realistic and possible.
Even Angie’s sudden anger building due to grief, loss, abuse and teasing is so realistic, and the way that despite everything the blame falls on her, replicates the story we see often in society. Refreshingly there is no absolute happy over the rainbow ending, it’s clear that Angie is happier but her life doesn’t suddenly become perfect on page 352.
While this was a sequel which I wasn’t aware of, until after I had finished it, I can proudly say it stand up on its own and would recommend it if Queer Young Adult Romance is your thing.
I give it 3 stars (I really wanted to give it more stars but unfortunately the writing style and negatives mentioned knocks off 2 stars).
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A Review Copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.