Review: ‘Big Fat Disaster’ by Beth Fehlbaum #2WeeksofThanks

This review is part of my Two Weeks of Thanks to book publisher Merit Press. They have generously and continuously provided me with books to review over the past two years.

You’re fat. You eat way too much, especially in times of stress. Which these days, seem to be always. Not only is it your fault that you take after your linebacker father while your sisters take after your Miss Texas mother, but now you’ve gone and discovered that your father, who is running for the US senate on a “family values” platform, has a girlfriend.

Your extended family prides itself on appearance; how you look on the outside is what matters most. You must not only look perfect, but you must never allow anything unpleasant – your dirty laundry – to be on display. Ever.

Once it’s clear that not only does Colby’s father, Reese, have a mistress, but he also is under investigation for stealing money from his campaign. He leaves the family high and dry, and because he has ruined their credit, Colby’s mother now must swallow her pride and stay in a trailer owned by Reese’s estranged sister, Leah. Everyone blames Colby for ruining their lives. It’s enough to send her to her special snack drawer and clean out the contents.

Moving is never easy, especially to a small town where a size 24 girl sticks out like a sore thumb. Counsin Ryan, who hates the family for its treatment of his mother, takes out his anger on Colby in a very public (and humiliating) way. When Colby’s decided that she can’t take it any more, she tries to remove herself from the picture…and can’t even get that right. Eventually she needs to own up to what really happened, and it just may cost her everything she’s gained.

Whadja Think?: This is a difficult one for me, to be honest. On the one hand, the topic of appearance, size, color, what is beauty, valuing yourself, etc., is such an important discussion that gets battled every day in schools all over. Teens are constantly being judged on how they look and what they wear via not only in the hallways but also via social media/media. Colby has obviously been beaten down so much that she’s no longer even seen as something to be respected; the family talks around her and about her as if she weren’t even there. She’s become a liability, the odd one out. Her body image is shot because she is constantly compared to the thin/pretty family members (like she had control over her genes).

On the other hand, I just really didn’t like Colby. Maybe the point wasn’t to like or not like Colby, but to just tell her story. You’re not going to like everyone you meet, but how about you base that on their behavior and not their appearance. It was very obvious from the start that this was a story that was very personal to the author. I didn’t have to read her bio to know that she’d been in Colby’s shoes before.

I know there are families like Colby’s out there, but sometimes they seemed to be drawn like caricatures.

To Read or Not To Read: This is a real real story. It is not geared to make you like anyone or end up tied in a neat bow. Messy, like real life.

Big Fat Disaster by Beth Fehlbaum was published April 18, 2014 by Merit Press. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to Merit Press and the Author.

Rating: 3

Genre: Young Adult Fiction Contemporary
Ages: 13 and up
You Might Want to Know: Nothing of note

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