Title: Big Fat Disaster
Author: Beth Fehlbaum
Pub. Date: April 18th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Merit Press
Colby Denton is the less than perfect daughter of an up and coming politician, something her family never lets her forget. Her sisters are perfect, but her family is ashamed of her being in the limelight because of her size. Her world starts to come apart when she finds out that her father has been lying and stealing. Forced to move into the trailer on her cousin's property, she must face new obstacles like bullying, school politics, suicide, and self-worth and acceptance in a new town.
This book y'all. This. Book. It had me in rage-tears. It made me so ridiculously angry, you have no idea. I took about six pages of hand-written, venting notes and observations on this one. That being said, I have taken some time to cool off so that I may write a respectful and professional review. I'll try my best to refrain from spoilers.
I was really excited to read this one. In theory, I should have related to it on a lot of different levels. I'm plus sized. I have a father who left us for another family and lied about money so that we had to move in with family. But this novel just didn't click with me at all. Shall we begin?
I didn't like any of the characters, and that includes Colby. She's the main character, and I ought to have felt sympathy and compassion for her, but I found her to be just as bad as the rest of them. Her family is constantly belittling her and calling her uncreative insults like "fat" at every waking turn. Even the other heavy girl in the family makes comments about it. Almost all of her teachers for some reason hate her, and the whole school makes fun of her because she's in knock off clothes. I could have maybe dealt with that. But Colby is constantly talking shit to/about her little sister, she refers to her mom's willingness to go shopping for her at garage sales when they have no money as "dumpster diving". There's a whole lot of shaming going on. They almost all feel like villains, in a kind of melodramatic way. I've been in Colby's shoes, and I've never seen such across the board horrid beings. The family members all blame her aunt for her abuse, the cousin for his defending a girl getting raped, and even Colby's mom for getting dumped. That's not even mentioning the people at school.
I also feel like she brought a lot of this onto herself. And no, I'm not talking about her eating disorder, binge eating. She puts on clothes that are way too tight and gets made fun of for it and hurts herself in the process because she won't tell her mom they don't fit. She speaks her mind at horrible times, and has to pay the price. She lies. It's awful.
On the topic of her eating disorder, I felt like it was added as an after thought when I expected it to be a more central theme. It really, in my opinion, just served to open her up to everyone's hatred. It would go unmentioned long enough that I'd forget (not about her size- that's mentioned constantly, but her disorder), and then would have to think "oh yeah, she has that."
Similarly, there are a lot of heavy topics mentioned in this book that are treated fairly blase in a soap-opera like drama instead of being given the care, tact, and respect they deserve. Eating disorders, suicide, bullying, cyberbullying, abuse, rape, slut shaming, class shaming, this book has it all. There's so much mentioned, but I don't feel like any of them were thoroughly explored or attended to. A video of Colby goes viral, and her mom actually blames her for being fat. Because if she weren't fat, she wouldn't have been filmed. What? The one character that I did like, who called characters out on their bullshit the way they deserved, dies out of nowhere and that upset me too. Not because he died, but because it seemed so needless.
This could have all maybe been leading up to some greater resolution, where differences are resolved and tensions simmer down and Everyone learns something. Nope. Colby starts to sort of come around towards the end, maybe, and then the book ends. I didn't like her anymore at the end of the novel than I did at the beginning. I felt like I read all this drama and conflict for naught.
This wasn't the book for me. If rape, abuse, suicide, or eating disorders are a trigger for you, please read this with caution. In short, it was too much drama and not enough likable characters. Be warned that this has a lot of serious themes and vulgar language. Maybe you'll like it better than I did. Thanks to Netgalley & Merit Press for my chance to read this.