Susan Vaught's earlier novel, Trigger, was wonderful, so her latest, Big Fat Manifesto, had some high standards to meet. And meet them it does!
Big Fat Manifesto is the story of Jamie, a senior in high school
and a writer. She has great friends and a boyfriend she loves. She's smart, witty, bold
- and fat. Very fat. But she's not ashamed; in fact, she writes a column in the school paper called
"Fat Girl." She educates people about the realities of being fat - the word she prefers over "platitudes like large or plus-sized
- or clinical words like obese." She's busting myths and being loud and outspoken and, she thinks, honest
- though what personal truths does she really reveal?
Big Fat Manifesto is the story of a fat girl in a society where
being so i's seen as socially unacceptable. In our culture, to be fat is probably the worst thing you can be. People hate fat. They don't want to be fat. They don't want to see fat people. They don't want fat people to exist. To many of them, fat people aren't even people. When Jamie and her skinnier friends go into a trendy store to expose their discrimination, that's far too clear. But is there anything one fat girl can do about it?
Obviously, weight is a huge part of this novel. But, thankfully, Jamie still has other qualities, other stories, and other concerns. It's an "issue" book, yes, but not exclusively. It's also not just for fat girls; it's for anyone who isn't always comfortable with their appearance, and, well, that's all of us, isn't it? It's human nature. We will always strive for some unattainable perfection, to meet the impossible standards society has, for no apparent reason, set. For much of this book, Jamie does let a number on a scale define her, which really bothered me, but
it's an unfortunately accurate representation of the way our society tells us to view ourselves and each other. Society wants a number on a scale to define us all, and what Big Fat Manifesto is really about, one of the big themes, is that there's a lot more to everybody.
Jamie is a believable, interesting narrator, and great at being just that, because she really has a lot to say
- and readers won't be able to stop reading it. Big Fat Manifesto is a very well-written, empowered, and engaging book that really does bring to light some important issues. Even if I don't necessarily agree with Jamie's take on everything, it's definitely interesting and thought-provoking. Susan Vaught does not write fluffy, mind-numbing books, not by a long shot. I highly recommend Big Fat Manifesto for anyone who wants to be more than just a number on a scale.