I’m genuinely curious as to why people believe that not reading a book means you can or should write a full review about it. Especially, when that review happens to be negative. If you are going to complain, at least do so after reading the book. Also, and here’s a thing that a lot of people LOVE to do which is talk over those who actually go through things or have a say in the matter. And to be more specific according to the book, if you aren’t overweight then please kindly refrain from speaking on the matter.
I don’t care if your brother, cousin, next door neighbour is overweight, it’s not a free pass to write your claims or praises by using someone else’s – real life people in this case – as your excuse to do so. This also goes to the author herself, I get that as writers we can’t be everything or go through everything that we write about but some subjects should be taken less lightly when you decide to write about them.
And why am I saying this? Apparently, this book received a lot of negative reviews because of the way it portrays an overweight girl. I will not speak up about Jack because he’s not the character I relate to and I’m also not familiar nor do I have his disorder. But as an overweight girl, I will speak about how I felt about this book. First of all, if you think it’s offensive then clearly you have no idea what you are talking about (and I’m talking towards those who aren’t or never were overweight), what’s offensive is what people actually do and how they treat overweight people. What Jennifer wrote is just a small demonstration of the cruelty that goes around and god forbid someone actually writes a book with an overweight girl, her perspective and having her fall in love. While also showing her struggles and the bullying she goes through.
Libby is strong as hell, honestly, she became like my hero. I wish I had even half the courage she has and I wish I accepted myself the way she does. Yes, she’s overweight but at some point, she’s happy with who she is. And unlike what a lot of people said, no, Libby does not see a boyfriend as her salvation. She accepted herself long before she fell for Jack and when he breaks her heart, she didn’t let that slow her down. Did she have a moment of weakness? Yes. She’s human. Did she want a boyfriend? Yes, she’s a teenager and please don’t try to tell me that that it wasn’t accurate or “in real life, it doesn’t work this way”, sadly it does. And I would understand if Jennifer gave the idea that Libby wouldn’t be happy with herself nor her body unless she had a boyfriend who would love her and suddenly she would love herself too, that it would cause people to react negatively but that’s not what happens.
I get it, the book insists a lot on the fact that Libby is fat and on Jack’s disorder. Personally, that didn’t really bother me. And yes, people are cruel as hell. And some parts of the book that people feel as if Jennifer is being offensive or that she’s fat shaming, I have a question: Do you even understand what writing is? When I’m writing a character and it happens to be in their Point of View, for example, I’m going to write down their feelings because that’s how they feel or think and guess what, not everyone is perfect, not every book is fantasy so if you want accurate and realistic characters you are going to have to write feelings and thoughts that sound realistic. Here’s where it gets tricky, some parts don’t feel realistic in her book but it’s a YA book about two teenagers falling in love, it’s going to get sappy. Now, having my girl fat shaming herself doesn’t mean the author THINKS and FEELS that way as well.
And truth is, I feel that way a lot. I wonder if maybe having a boyfriend would make me feel better. Make me accept the body I have. It isn’t healthy thinking but it’s accurate. All the nasty things someone could say to me, I’m going to think them first. But seeing Libby being so brave and happy with who she is, it’s truly refreshing.
This wasn’t a story about the hot guy who saves the fat girl, in fact, it felt more like Libby was the one to save Jack. The constant mention of the fact that she is fat is nothing but an honest representation of what goes on in school and real life. Everyone sees you as the fat girl even if you do lose some weight. So yeah, no one was congratulating Libby for losing the weight because they still see her as that same fat girl. So for most people – for bullies – they don’t care.
To sum up, this isn’t a perfect book but it hardly deserves all the negative praise. And if you love TFIOS and god knows what else, then I find it hypocritical that you are going to call out this story for romanticising overweight people and Jack’s disorder. It’s contemporary so it’s a light and easy reading, it’s not a big book and with YA it’s not like you can go too much into things. If you can’t relate to it, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad book.