I started Big Boned by Jo Watson sometime last fall. And it took me this long not because it was bad, the opposite actually, but I was only reading at lunch, was not reading every day and it just got away from me. This weekend I had a few hours with nothing bothering me expect my friend’s cat occasionally giving me the stink eye as I was not petting him and sitting in his spot.
What started off as a funny-without-be-lol-funny book would have its moments throughout would turn serious about halfway through. The first part is our gal Lori setting us up: She is the artistic fat girl, she has two gay BFFs, she has an autistic brother, a father who cheated on her mother with a much younger woman, her mother is having a mid-life crisis due to the divorce and trying to find out who she is and neglecting Lori and Zac in the process. We are set up that Lori knows the facts: fat girls don’t get the hot guy, they get bullied, put down and must move from Johannesburg to Cape Town even though it will ruin her life.
Yes, this is a teen rom-com. There is no getting around it. And really nothing is fresh here. Unless you count that Lori is a “graffiti artist” but in a “good way.” She accidently makes a statement one day, in the middle of an anxiety attack, leading to instant social media fame and infamy…. but then a second and third act really get things moving for her. And now the police get involved but so does the community because they are waking up to the color and realties. Watson wanted to bring to light South Africa’s gender biased violence towards women, but it gets lost in the shuffle of “hot guy Jake” and Lori’s friendship, her coming into her own, dealing with her mother, and actually making friends.
The two things I liked is Zac, Lori’s autistic brother, is realistic. He has some of the best lines, this is how a child of his situation would behave. And the other is, while Jake is a flat character (I didn’t see a lot of growth with him), he didn’t fall too much into the “oh fat girl alert, so I’ll go shag my hot popular girlfriend until I learn how beautiful Lori is and now fall madly in love with her” category. He seems like a decent person from the start.
A busy, slightly perfectly imperfect, fun read. At least ages 12 and up due to some concepts and some content.