This is a very good novel told in free verse poems from the point of view of Ellie, who is about to enter sixth grade and whose best friend is moving away. She is fat and her mother is determined for her to lose weight by any means necessary, and she keeps pushing Ellie to get weight loss surgery. Ellie is also bullied at school for being fat and then the bullying continues at home by her mother and brother. Her sister also joins in to a lesser extent and calls her the cruel nickname that follows her at school and home. Her father is on her side and is very supportive of her, but the effect of all the pressure is wreaking havoc on her self-esteem. Over the course of the book, Ellie makes a new supportive friend, Catalina, and she gets a therapist who helps her to realize that the way she’s being treated is wrong.
I found this book to be very powerful and very truthfully written. The characters all feel realistic and you really root for Ellie to learn how to care for herself and be able to protect herself. Her slow opening up in therapy is well done, as at first she’s convinced the therapist is against her as well, and I enjoyed seeing their therapeutic relationship develop. The scene where she confronts her mom was great. I also liked that Fipps showed how your family can bully you as well, and the effect that can have. Fipps based Ellie off her own experience and that realism comes through. Personally I was not this badly bullied for my weight, but I could relate a lot to being the biggest one in middle school and dealing with a society that is set up to reject and humiliate anyone in a larger body. Reading this felt very healing and positive. Definitely recommended!
Warnings for fatphobia throughout, intense bullying resulting in bruises, terrible family members, being threatened with weight loss surgery against your will, medical trauma, dog kidnapping