Review: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Crystal Maldonado
Holiday House
Published February 2, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega on Goodreads

My Review

I have so many thoughts, and I’ve had days to try to organize them, but I’m still sifting. I feel like that’s always a good sign with a book. Sometimes simple books that don’t require thought afterward are fun, but I definitely prefer books that leave me with things to think about or emotions to process.

First, the relationships in this book. Wow. Charlie has a complex relationship with her mom. Her mom says gross and deeply critical-slash-toxic things to her about her body and her habits. It feels like she’s regurgitating the harmful things she’s been told about being fat, which is both wrong and terrible, but also made me hurt for her. The story isn’t about her, but that underlying hurt made Charlie’s mom a complicated character and helped us see why Charlie had big feelings about her mom.

Charlie’s relationship with Amelia. Also wow. I loved Amelia, and I loved some of the components of Charlie and Amelia’s friendship. I loved that as different things happened in the book, I felt like I got to observe them and see not just Charlie’s perspective, but I felt like there were subtle cues about when she was wrong, too. That balance is really difficult– if things are too subtle, they’ll go unnoticed, but if they’re too bold, the story feels forced. So I think the balance there was expertly managed.

Additionally, I loved the first love component of FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA, too. The heartbreak. The challenges to trust. Charlie’s moments of self-reflection. Also, Charlie’s experience of falling in love for the first time, and having to figure out how to navigate all those first-love challenges herself.

All in all, I think this one will stick with me a long time. I loved so many moments in the story, and I think the character relationships are absolutely amazing. Readers looking for a first love story, add this one to your list. Fans of PRETTY FUNNY FOR A GIRL by Rebecca Elliot should check this one out.

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Representation
Charlie is Puerto Rican and fat. Her best friend Amelia is Black and pansexual.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between a boy and girl. References to touching over clothes. Charlie’s friend Amelia makes plans to have sex with her boyfriend. He breaks up with her when she decides she can’t go through with it.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
None.

Drug Content
Charlie and Amelia drink alcohol in one scene.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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