Big Boned

Wattpad. Sept. 2021. 392p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781989365298.
Gr 8 Up–Because of her parents’ divorce and the need for her autistic brother, Zac, to attend a special school, 17-year-old Lori is now facing her first day at her new school. She has been thrust from her artistic, trendy, urban lifestyle in Johannesburg, South Africa into the slower-paced small town of Clifton, Cape Town, just a few months before graduation. She is angry, hurt, and demoralized. Lori is constantly berating herself for her pasty white skin and wild red hair, for being fat and ugly or too forward, or not forward enough. Barely making it through the first few days, angry at her parents and trying to stay under the radar, Lori picks up Zac and discovers that the handsomest boy she’s ever seen—Jake—has a sister, Lisa, at the same school. Jake, who is white, cares as much for Lisa as Lori does Zac, so they plan play dates and build a friendship that seems like it might become more. When popular Thembi, a gorgeous Black girl with an eye for fashion, asks Lori if she can make a dress for her, Lori realizes that not everyone agrees with the thoughts in her head. Through therapy, growing friendships, reconciliation, and some powerful graffiti art-making, she learns that she has the power to change that conversation, accept herself, and open doors along the way.
VERDICT Growth through negative self-talk makes this a powerful book for all teens.

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