Queer · YA and Teen

Review: The Big Reveal

The Big RevealTitle: The Big Reveal
Author: Jen Larsen
Page Count: 304
Publication: December 2021

[Amazon | IndieBound | BN | Find it at your local library]

(Other reviews: Kirkus, Popsugar)

A friend of mine, Jen, proudly announce that a friend of hers, Jen Larsen, had a new book coming out in December. That book, The Big Reveal, was about a teen ager who while fat showed that being fat was not who she is: Addie is more than fat. She’s a talented dancer. She’s a feminist. She’s the loyalist of friends. She is beautiful. She’s inspirational. She is everything I want to be and I’m old enough to be her mother.

Larsen, whose name sounded familiar but I could quite place, until I realised she’s also the author of Stranger Here, a memoir of her weight loss surgery (WLS). Larsen went on to lose 180lbs, a whole person!, as told in her funny and all too painfully true story. Now, I’m regurgitating what I read on Good Reads about the book, which I have not read, yet, but another friend, Sara, recommended the book to me as a primer to help make my decision about my own WLS journey. I can confidently say two things about Stranger Here: It’s been bumped up my queue and if Stranger Here is anything like The Big Reveal in terms of writing, I’m going to love it.

Some may say that being fat is a choice and if we’re being brutally honest, it isn’t. Not really. People can have disordered eating at any size but being fat can also be the result of medicines, health conditions, and genetics. In an ideal world, we could all be Addie: confident in our own skin and assertive enough to put ourselves into the front of line and not let the commentary about our bodies slow us down. I know this is something I’ve been struggling with and if you keep up with my newsletter (of course), detailing my journeys on struggling with who I am, I could use a boost of Addie right now. I’ve had more friends decide to do the WLS route recently and it is scary to think they are willing to rearrange organs to achieve an acceptable size.

Can’t we just be enough? Sometimes we think not, and that breaks my heart for my own self and my struggle with my own perception of me.

But Addie, Addie, Addie. She has the best of friends, a well intentioned but misses the mark mother, and a wonderful support sytem. But believing in yourself isn’t just about the support system you have but it’s also truly, deep down inside, believing who you are and that you are good enough. Addie believes she is good enough, more than good enough, and that’s what sets this charm of a book to its core.

I don’t know if I’m going to do WLS just yet, and I’ve been mulling about it for months, but I do know I’m going to pull a bit of Addie in my life and start to believe not only am I good enough, but that I’m worthy of taking up space.

tl;dr Insightful, beautifully written, full of warmth and charm, The Big Reveal will be, dare I say and I hate this word, an unputdownable book that will make you want to believe in everything around you. Five stars.

SFF · YA and Teen

Review: The Novice: Summoner: Book One

TItle: The Novice: Summoner: Book One
Author: Taran Matharu
Page Count: 384
Publication: May 2015
Series: Summoner #1

[Amazon | IndieBound | BN | Find it at your local library]

(Other reviews: The Guardian, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly)

Reviewed by Natalie

Orphan boy? Check. Finds he has a hidden ability? Check. Two of my favorite tropes ever.

Fletcher is the apprentice to a blacksmith and a legitimately good kid. His life is a simple one and he enjoys it except for the local rich kid and his friends who constantly bully him. When he finds himself in possession of a Summoner’s Book, he uses it, thinking it won’t work. To his shock, it does and he becomes the new owner of a salamander-like demon. Once that happens, he’s off to Summoning school to learn all the spells needed (yes, the school is a big castle-like structure. What other kind would it be?) While at Vocans, Fletcher learns the art of summoning and makes some new friends. He’s not perfect, he makes mistakes, but he also feels horrible when he does. Not everything is wonderful at Vocans though. There are conspiracies to attempt to stop, nasty fellow students to deal with, and much more. The book ends on a cliff-hanger guaranteed to make you want to read book 2 (which of course I did).

As I was reading, I kept thinking, “how have I not read this book earlier?” Yes, it’s nothing new to the fantasy genre, but the storytelling is very well done and I truly liked Fletcher as a character. I couldn’t help but want to root for him from the first page. It’s a quick read, with just enough world-building and backstory to give the reader a sense of the place, but not too much that it bogs down the story. I definitely recommend reading Fletcher’s story.