It has been many years since I was the target audience for this type of story, but I found myself relating to Charlie Vega in a lot of ways. As a Latina with a body that has never (and will never) fit society’s traditional beauty standards, I truly wish that I had this book growing up. It can be said that the YA genre as a whole has definitely become much more expansive and inclusive since I was a teenager, although there is still a lot of work to be done. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a wonderful book and a positive step toward normalizing all kinds of representation for main characters in books, specifically fat rep, which is probably why Claudia included it in her anticipated 2021 releases.
Synopsis of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega follows a 16 year old writer who is just trying to be herself in a world that is not so easily accepting of a fat Brown girl. She has a very strained relationship with her mother, a dynamic that was at times hard to read. Charlie deals with this in the best way she can, and finds comfort in her lifelong best friend Amelia, and her love for writing. She experiences multiple conflicts throughout the story that ultimately lead to her having to confront herself and her own mind.
What makes this book especially noteworthy is that while the fat rep (and all the other BIPOC and LGBTQ+ rep) is an important, perhaps even central, part of the story, it is not the WHOLE story. The book does not read like Crystal Maldonado set out to teach about the importance of quality representation, and it works. There is no agenda here, only a heartfelt story.
While the book was excellent, I did not like the focus so much on a specific romantic relationship. I would have loved to see more of Charlie as a writer and coming into her self-love by herself. However, this is a “me” problem, and to be fair, the book is listed as YA contemporary romance. It is well-paced and definitely well-written, and packs a ton of sweet and funny moments. This book is fluffy, but also deals with hard-hitting topics like family issues, self-image, anxiety, racism, and sexism. I would say it strikes a great balance between light-hearted and heavy content.
Just a disclaimer before reading: be ready, because Charlie will steal your heart.