Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Crystal Maldonado's debut book Fat Chance, Charlie Vega follows a "Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb." Charlie's Puerto Rican dad passed away leaving her and her white mom grieving and trying to find happiness again. There's just one problem: they've never really been close. Charlie's mom used to be fat, too, but she lost a lot of weight and won't let Charlie forget that.
As her mother's fat phobia threatens to break her daughter's embrace of body positivity, Charlie's heart is set on a cute boy at school. Somehow, she can't escape the fact that everyone seems to like her best friend Amelia better. Amelia, with her beautiful dark brown skin, clear complexion, curly black hair and her tall and thin body. Just as Charlie begins to connect with a sweet guy who seems to truly like her for who she is, her insecurities about her body and her friend Amelia threaten to ruin everything.
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is packed with representation. This is the first book I've read that includes the struggle of body acceptance when living with a fat-phobic family member. Although Charlie lets it get to her more often than she would like, I enjoyed the moments when she seized on her true power.
It's hard to feel like you're in the shadow of other folks, especially as a fat girl, but it's much harder to overcome when you are your own harshest critic. At 17, Charlie is beginning to learn that and I think it's very important.
While I enjoyed most of this book, there were a few things that made it harder for me to feel attached to it. For one, despite Charlie's awareness of cliches, she seems to fall into so many. For readers who are not teens, Charlie's assessment of her relationships can come across as a bit overdramatic. Of course, I realize that I was probably overdramatic for much of my teen years, so that's not a drawback.
If you hoping to see yourself in a book that empowers you and others like you, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is the book you want to read.