Book Review: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado – A Heartfelt and Fun Coming-of-Age about Friendship, Fatness, and Falling in Love

Blurb:

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

Cuddle's review:

Charlie Vega is such a lovable heroine to follow for all 352 pages of her journey, and I was left wanting a sequel (or more!), just to see how she’s doing. Throughout her story, she struggles with her single mother’s obsession with dieting and being thin, following the passing of her father. Fortunately, she has her best friend Amelia, but that comes with the caveat that she seems to be perfect and that she comes second to Amelia all the time, including a couple especially heartbreaking moments. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega centers around her trying to navigate the dating world and friendships in high school, and approaching prom.

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Book Review: I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee – A Celebration of K-Pop, Body Positivity, and Untangling Complex Asian Parent-Child Relationships

I'll Be The One, Lyla Lee. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Cuddle wearing a pajama hat.

Blurb:

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

Joce’s review:

I’ll Be the One follows Skye Shin’s journey through auditioning for the K-Pop reality TV competition called You’re My Shining Star as a fat, bisexual, Korean teenage girl, while dealing with a potential romance with a co-star, and her complex relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Lyla Lee celebrates fatness, bisexuality, and some fierce work and talent through her construction of Skye’s character.

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Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition – An Interview with Alechia Dow, Author of The Sound of Stars; On Writing Hope and Resistance and Demisexual Representation

Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition - An Interview with Alechia Dow, Author of The Sound of Stars; On Writing Hope and Resistance and Demisexual Representation. An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, with her arms spread out wide like she is showing off someone, with Alechia as a purple bear wearing glasses and holding a chocolate donut.

An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, waving her hand and winking at you while holding up a flag with the inclusive Pride flag - horizontal stripes of black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

When I was younger and learning about what it meant to be queer, one of my earliest labels – and the only label I feel any real connection to – was ‘demisexual’. Growing up and as a teen, I struggled to connect and understand how my friends talked and felt about romance and attraction. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realised that I was demisexual and also gray-ace.
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Book Review: If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann – A Little Disorganized, but a Lot of Heart

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann.

Blurb:

High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?

Joce’s review:

Claire Kann’s sophomore young adult contemporary novel features our protagonist Winnie, a queer, Black, self-proclaimed fat teenage girl who is enjoying her summer before she begins college. She is balancing working at her Grandma’s diner, Goldeen’s (yes, named after the Pokemon!), talking to a boy named Dallas she’s in a love-hate relationship with, navigating her queerplatonic relationship (QPR) with her “ungirlfriend” Kara, and thinking about entering a televised cooking competition to make extra money.

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Five Reasons To Read: Final Draft by Riley Redgate – The Epitome of ‘Quiet YA’

Text: Final Draft, a novel. Riley Redgate.

Final Draft is one of the most evocative and most powerfully quiet books I have had the pleasure to read in a long, long time. Picking this up, I never expected this book to burrow deep into my skin, find a place in my soul, and would just… understand me and who I am on a fundamental human level.

The book follows Laila, a teen who, following the hospitalisation of her supportive and encouraging mentor, has to grapple with the challenging and confronting criticisms of her new mentor, an award-winning author who is as hard-ass and sardonic as they come.

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