When I started reading Fat Chance, Charlie Vega I was okay. This is a thing. It is a little slow, but I can work with that. Then I started thinking I had read it before. I have concluded that I either have read the first few chapters or the two scenes that were really making me think I read before are “subject word for word” to other things read. Perhaps that is because the teen romance troupe is something we know and the author “went there” to set the mood (so to speak) and to set up the idea Charlie (Charlotte) is a romance writer herself (and a terribly romantic person).
As a teen, I would have enjoyed this Crystal Maldonado novel. As an adult I found pieces I am not sure I can get behind. With that said, this is a fun book. It has some of this and that. A little representation (Charlie’s background, a love interest is Korean, and several GLBTQ+ people) and covering the teen experience. It is written in a modern voice. I think that voice might be younger than Charlotte’s age, but that fits as she is naïve in many ways.
The story is a simple one: Fat Girl. Skinny BFF. Boys. Parents. And how that makes Charlie feel about herself. This is, of course, reinforced by how society sees her, how she is told she “should” act. Maybe we could see a bit more of that, but it also is not the focus, as I am assuming Maldonado is assuming their audience will be Charlie-like and it is not like we need to see our life again on the page. Still, there is some of this to help drive the point across. The point (for me) was the struggle is really Charlie’s internal struggle with this. She tries to follow the body positive movement online. I liked that she says at one point she is “all for all that”, yet, still it is hard sometimes to reverse that love inwards.
There is also the story arc of grief. Non-spoiler, we learn that Charlie’s father has passed away and that plays into the idea of “comfort” and “reinventing” oneself. And because of Charlie’s background (Caucasian/Puerto Rican) I see a book two with her family on her father’s side. They are introduced, but there is potential to explore that relationship as well.
This novel is for at least ages 13 and up. There is talk of sex and scenes of making out, so the younger reader might not be “ready” for some of it. Still, know your reader for this PG or PG-13 story.