Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum
Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It’s her life: Dad’s a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative’s trailer, where her mom’s contempt swells right along with Colby’s supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby’s role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she’s only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.
“Colby’s life … is difficult enough, but it gets worse very quickly once she discovers a photo of her politician father kissing another woman. The fast pace, lively … dialogue, and timely topic make it a quick and enjoyable read.” – Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
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This book is brave. It tackles the topic of weight, self-loathing, and depression in an unflinching and often uncomfortable ways. Colby handles stress by eating, and the more she compares herself to her thin relatives, the more she eats. It's clear that she has an eating disorder, and I appreciated that the author didn't gloss over the power of that by allowing Colby to just "fix" herself by choosing to eat healthier one day. Colby makes that decision several times over the course of the book, only to turn to food again when things get tough.
It can be tough to like Colby at times, and her family is mostly unkind and hurtful. Colby desperately needs the love and support of her parents, but both are too absorbed in their own problems to be of much help. Add in a move to a new town, a leaked video of Colby at her most vulnerable, and a difficult time at school, and Colby's self-destructive behaviour hits a new low.
Kat's Rating: A Good Read
This book is a difficult read at times, because it doesn't gloss over difficult or uncomfortable subject matter. Colby isn't always likeable, but she's always real, trying to cope with her issues the best she can under the circumstances. There's no heroic ending, or quick-fix solution to her issues, and I think that's important for those reading the book who may be coping with some of the same problems.
I received a complimentary copy of this title from the author in return for an honest review.
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