My Thoughts (this will most definitely contain spoilers…I have A LOT of thoughts).
So, I usually start my reviews with a favorite quote and a summary of the book…not for this one. I have to dive right in and I’m not holding back. So, buckle up and join me for the roller coaster of thoughts that this book elicited from me.
Just for some background on myself, I am (and almost always have been) considered plus sized in this crazy society we live in. I have hips, a butt, love handles, curves all over, jiggly arms and tummy, and then some. I’m a size 16/18 in pants/dresses (when I buy pants/dresses that are labeled numbers) and there was once a day, not too long ago, that I would be embarrassed to post that publically. I was bullied through middle and high school for being fat and still deal with people making quipps here and there. So, I was very excited to read a book with a plus sized main character that sounded very badass! There were also an exceptional amount of 4 or 5 star reviews on Goodreads, which made me even more hyped to dive in.
Then…I started reading the book. I was into the plot of Bea being a plus-sized fashion blogger. I love that and enjoyed those aspects of the book. I know how hard it is to find clothes that are cute AND flatter my body, so I liked how Bea took her experience in Paris and turned it into a career. However, the bachelorette-esque part of the plot really bugged me. Bea seemed so miserable 99% of the time she was part of the show and it made her really irritating to listen to. I did appreciate that Bea wanted to have diversity on the show, but the producer, Lauren, didn’t really follow through with that as she said she would (seems to be a theme with Lauren). I also was extremely angry at Lauren’s character and how she planned for the men to be nasty to Bea (she had one look at Bea for the first time and then walk off because he couldn’t ever love a fat woman). Yes, plus sized people are actively bullied – online, in person, behind their backs, etc. However, I can’t imagine how triggering reading some of the things these men said must have been for people (Bea included). The constant references to cows and diabetes were ridiculous. I was uncomfortable reading a lot of the dialogue and then, found myself pissed because the men were never confronted for the things they said to/about Bea. Bea didn’t stand up for herself either, which lost some points from me.
Stayman-London used a mixed media format throughout this novel as an enhancer. In some books, the mixed media would have played out nicely. In this novel, however, I found the mixed media to feel like it was a place-holder that never got replaced. Also, a lot of the media included was extremely negative and fat-phobic. The things these “blog posts” said were appalling. Yes, I understand that this is some people’s realities, but for someone that went in to read about this awesome, relatable, plus-sized character, these were more like a slap in the face. I found myself delving into the deepest parts of my memory remembering the horrible things that peers/adults have said about/to me, and the things that I have thought about myself. Had I known that this book would be so triggering, I probably wouldn’t have read it.
I was SO happy at the end of the book when Bea turned down both of the final contestants and decided she was going to love herself instead. THEN, she went and got serious with a different contestant, completely doing the opposite of what she planned. She went on the show in the first place to further her career, convinced she wouldn’t fall in love because she still loved her old friend, Ray. Bea was, like I stated, miserable for most of the TV show, faking it until she made it. I feel like Bea had a decent acceptance of her body in the beginning of the book, but after being verbally shamed on live TV over and over again, you can definitely see where the comments took a toll on her self-esteem. I don’t know if I was a fan of her staying on the show. I think if she ended up leaving/breaking contract, it would have made a bigger difference and the story could have taken a different turn.
As for the men in the story, there were 25 contestants plus Ray. I’ll start with Ray, ugh. I was beyond irritated and Bea’s behaviors toward Ray. He was a dick to her, but she still wanted him (something I don’t see the appeal in, but I know that some may). She was going through heartache the whole book, over Ray, and I don’t think she should have been on a TV show that ended in proposal, when she still had feelings for him. Then, there’s the 25 min. I could not follow all 25 of them and had a hard time figuring out how the TV show worked (I don’t watch the bachelor so I was going in blind). Most of the contestants were stereotypical and had crappy personalities. They were spewing fat-phobic comments constantly, and I wanted Bea to throw some hands. I liked Sam and rooted for Asher, but the rest I hated. Luc, for one, slept with Bea after telling her sweet things and then turned around and slept with Lauren, hours after he had warmed Bea’s bed. I can’t imagine how Bea was feeling, but I know that I was angry and really wishing I hadn’t read this book.
Overall, I was hoping for a fun romance with a body-positive message. I looked passed the writing, poorly-placed mixed media formatting, and extreme (shallow) character overload, but I couldn’t look passed the rest of the story’s details. I got a story with the potential of a great plot, but it was splattered with fat-phobia, stereotypes, and the negativity that society has made us all associate with the term ‘plus-size’. I didn’t feel good about myself after reading this book. I was angry, self-conscious, and disappointed. I had high hopes for this book, and felt that the plus-sized community was done a disservice with this story. I wanted more from Bea, more representation, but it fell flat. I did enjoy a few of the aspects of the story, like Asher’s children and Bea’s family. I appreciated the direction the author tried to take the story, but for me it just didn’t work. So, this book has earned two stars from me and will probably get sold at my next yard sale (too harsh?).
Please remember that these are my unprofessional opinions, but these thoughts all came from my heart. I want to see more plus size representation in books. This book had the potential, and had a great idea, but it didn’t sit right for me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book! Please let me know what you thought! Was it the same as me? Different? There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews and I am very curious to see how others interpreted the story!