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No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter - Review

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Where did I get it? Netgalley. Thank you very much to Macmillan's Children's Books for the opportunity to read this novel. 

What's it about? I already know of Bethany Rutter through plus size blogging, and I saw a few people mention that she'd written a YA book with a fat protagonist, so I was eager to read it. The book is about Emily, who is seventeen, and just starting her last year of school. 

She lives with her mum and dad in Croydon, South London. Her beloved elder sister Katie is at university in Manchester. Emily and her mum are both fat. Emily is okay with this, but her mum has tried every fad diet going and is always on at Emily to join in with her. But Emily has a great sense of style and a ton of confidence. Meanwhile at school, Emily has a strong group of friends, but is bullied quite a bit by resident pretty girl Holly. Her best friend Camila has also returned from a summer in Sweden quite a bit thinner, which complicates Emily's feelings about her own body even further. 

Emily meets a boy called Joe at a party and immediately has a crush on him. She soon learns that he works in a local record shop and she sets about making the two of them friends. They share a taste in music which Emily is pleased about. The two grow closer but as they do, Emily's discomfort grows. Joe seems ashamed to be seen with her - can it really be because of her body, especially when he seems so nice otherwise?

What age range is it for? 15+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? They're not main characters, but Emily does have queer friends. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Again, not main characters, but Emily's friends. I have to say that I felt like the some of the diversity was a little bit performative? I'd have liked these secondary characters to have been fleshed out more beyond what they are. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No 

Is there any sex stuff? No 

Are drugs mentioned or used? I think maybe marijuana is mentioned, but Emily doesn't use it herself. 

Is there any talk of death? No 

Are there swear words? Maybe a couple, judiciously used 

What criticisms do I have? As above, I found the diversity a bit false and not developed enough. I also thought the book felt like it was set maybe ten or more years ago - some of the references and bands talked about seem quite out of date. I would have liked the whole thing to feel a bit more modern than the late 00s. I'm not quite sure why it felt like this, but it did. 

For myself, I did think that a lot of stuff about fat politics was a bit simple. But, I recognise that that is because I'm a fat acceptance blogger myself so none of it was new information. In that way, this book utterly wasn't written for me. It was written for teens after all, and this might all be new to them, and I'm glad it exists for them. I would recommend that anyone interested in this stuff should google more and get more information that way. 

I also found it difficult to keep track of time sometimes. Like the narrative would say "We did this for weeks/we did it often" or something like that, but then in the next bit, it would only be a week or a couple of weeks later. I thought that was odd. 

I found the book average - I think there are far better books with fat protagonists and I'd look for them first. But, I do think the introduction to fat politics would be good for many teenagers, fat or thin. 

Would I recommend the book? As above, kind of if you're the target demographic. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I was keen to get to it around the time it was published. 

What do I think of the cover? I like it! I think it's cute and eyecatching. 

What other books is it like? I'd recommend The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding as being similar and better.

How many stars? Three out of five

No Big Deal will be published on 8th August 2019. I was given a free electronic copy of the novel but was not compensated in any other way for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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