3 stars, not spoiler free.
I have to start by addressing my biggest issue, which isn’t about the book but about the negative reviews it receives. Everybody loved Simon’s book. No surprise there, plus a lot of females really enjoy stories with m/m relations but when it comes to f/f suddenly everything surrounding it is problematic. But that’s not even the point I’m trying to make. The issue is that when it comes to having a fat girl as the main character everyone seems to have a problem with it. It happened with Holding Up the Universe and it happens here too. Having a fat main character actually addressing bullying and sharing their thoughts about being fat does not make a book problematic.
It’s simply the reality of a lot of fat girls and how they feel about themselves. Now, this book is short and it doesn’t really focus on the fact that Molly is fat unlike what happens with Libby so we don’t see a lot of development from that part. But self-love doesn’t happen in two seconds. I also didn’t felt like Molly needed a boy to validate her, she simply wanted to experience kissing one and actually having a boyfriend. Which I guess, a normal thing? To experience those sort of things. I also highly doubt that Molly suddenly started loving herself and accepted her body once she starts dating Reid. Yes, she does think she’s beautiful but I don’t think it’s related to Reid. Dating Reid makes her happy and guess what, having someone love you can help you realise what you couldn’t before. Because what once felt impossible it’s happening now. I don’t know where this obsession with turning love into a bad thing comes from.
In fact, Molly seems to care more about the fact that her grandmother thinks she’s beautiful than she did with Reid.
Anyway, let’s start with quotes that I totally relate to and no, I don’t find it problematic. I find it realistic.
“I guess it’s just this feeling that my body is secretly all wrong. Which means any guy who assumes I’m normal is going to flip his shit if we get to the point of nakedness (…) It makes me never want to be naked. And it’s not like I could be a Never Nude. I don’t even like jean shorts.”
Girl, same. And feeling this way doesn’t mean I need a boy to validate me. Because I know that getting a boyfriend doesn’t mean I’m suddenly going to love myself. It doesn’t work like that. I don’t need men to validate me.
Here’s another one,
“We’d kiss. Okay. We’d have sex. I don’t know. Even if he likes me, I’m not sure he’d like me naked. I hate that I’m even thinking that. I hate hating my body. Actually, I don’t even hate my body. I just worry everyone else might.”
And here we have it, Molly doesn’t even hate her body but she worries everyone else does. Because why? People really enjoy bullying others for the way they look and maybe, just maybe if we treated everyone the same way, this wouldn’t be an issue. If people weren’t assholes we wouldn’t have others growing up feeling like outsiders and people not worth loving or not being acceptable to have sex because of what their body looks like.
Another one showing once again, that also relates to movies, tv shows etc where everywhere you rarely get positive fat representation, “Under my shirt, there’s no flat stomach, and there are no cute little boobs, and there’s no hazy lighting. It’s just a lot of me. Way too much of me.”
Let’s stop pretending Molly is the only one who feels the way and the story are in her point of view so of course, you are going to see everything the way she does. And everything is going to be about her and how she sees everyone else. Because we are in her head so we might not like everything we see.
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