High school senior Jamie Carcaterra is fat. She is also super sassy “Fat Girl”, journalist and drama extraordinaire, who chronicles her experiences of being fat in her school newspaper column “Fat Girl”. In her “Fat Girl” column, she sounds off on the condescension, discrimination, and general bad behavior she faces as a result of her weight. Life gets complicated for Jamie when her boyfriend Burke–also overweight–decides to undergo gastric bypass surgery. Add some intense media coverage as a result of her Fat Girl column, and Jamie feels like she’s trapped in a pressure cooker. Will she work things out?
I came across Susan Vaught’s Big Fat Manifesto as a result of a blog post on overweight female teenage protagonists. It sounded pretty interesting, so I checked it out of the library. Needless to say, I am glad I checked it out. Vaught’s narrative really gets at the heart of the issue. The discrimination and insults that Jamie faces are very real, and seeing her have to face those challenges really opened up a new viewpoint for me. I have never been overweight myself, and reading Jamie’s story really put things in perspective for me. I also thought that Vaught’s characterization of Jamie was really nice: even though her “Fat Column” was a huge focus, there was plenty more to Jamie’s character. She went through the same identity searches that any teen does, and I was happy for her when she seemed to figure things out for herself toward the end. All in all, a great book–I definitely recommend it.