The crew of this podcast represent a wide range of body types, personalities, physical features, abilities, and colors. We’re a diverse group, which unfortunately means we’re familiar with a diverse range of insults. For our recommended reads for this week, we tried to pick books where characters overcome and rise above the bullying… instead of just kind of waiting for it to end. While Linda didn’t get the justice she so rightly deserved, we hope you’ll enjoy some people who do. Young readers looking for characters who were able to rise above their bullies might enjoy the following books:
- Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Ellie is young, but her classmates never miss an opportunity to fat-shame her after she wears a whale swimsuit to her fifth birthday party. Struggling with body and self esteem issues, she creates what she calls the “Fat Girl Rules”: avoid eating in public, try not to jiggle when you move, and take up as little space as possible. The only place she feels truly calm is her swimming pool, where she can stretch out like a starfish and enjoy the feeling of being weightless. However, with the help of her grandmother, dad, therapist, and new friend Catalina, Ellie might soon be able to overcome the bullying and accept herself for who she truly is. Through her journey, she will discover the power of self-acceptance and the importance of true friendship. Blubber readers who were rooting for Linda will love what Ellie is able to accomplish.
- Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
This book is less about surviving bullies and more about being regretful about the past. We’ve all made mistakes before, but Trent Zimmerman made a mistake that he can’t seem to escape from. After accidentally hitting and killing a classmate with a hockey puck, Trent becomes an outcast at school and struggles with his intense feelings of guilt. When he meets a new classmate named Fallon Little, who has her own secret past, the two become unlikely friends and begin to heal together. Through their friendship, Trent learns to confront his past and find hope for the future.
- All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
You know we can’t resist a graphic novel on this podcast. Imogene has been homeschooled her entire life while working as a squire alongside her Renaissance Faire-loving family. She’s excited to finally start attending public school for the first time but soon finds it difficult to navigate. How is she supposed to figure out the social dynamics and expectations of her classmates when she’s trying to balance her responsibilities at the Faire? Especially when her new classmates think her unique interests and family background are weird? With the help of her family, friends, and a kind-hearted teacher, Imogene will learn how to survive middle school while staying true to herself.
Teens and adults looking for plus-sized stories of empowered women might try some of these titles:
- Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
Daphne Berg is a plus-sized influencer with a budding career. As she’s beginning to focus on it, the last thing she’s expecting is an invitation to her former best friend’s wedding. Drue Cavanaugh even wants her to be the maid of honor, despite their toxic history and an argument that ended their friendship six years ago. However, Daphne decides to go and finds herself caught up in the drama of the Cavanaugh family and their secrets. When a tragedy occurs, she is pulled into an investigation to find out what happened and discovers that things aren’t always as they seem.
- Landwhale: On Turning Insults into Nicknames, Why Body Image is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass by Jes Baker
Jes Baker’s memoir is an exploration of her journey towards self-acceptance and body positivity. Baker, a self-proclaimed fact activist, shares her experiences growing up as a larger-bodied person in a society that stigmatizes and often discriminates against people based on their size. She discusses the harmful impact of diet culture and the pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards. She advocates for a more inclusive and accepting approach to body diversity. Throughout the book, she shares personal stories of struggle and triumph while offering practical advice and resources for people seeking to improve their relationship with their bodies.
- If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy
We’re suckers for modern fairy tale retellings, so this take on the Cinderella story was a no brainer. Cindy is a plus-sized fashion designer specializing in shoe design. When she is asked to participate on her favorite reality TV show, Before Midnight, she simply can’t resist. It’s not like she has anything better to do, right? Well, it turns out that being the only plus-sized contestant has all eyes on her. Cindy unintentionally becomes a body positivity icon, winning the hearts of women everywhere. One particularly unexpected heart belongs to Henry, the show’s Prince Charming and Bachelor-to-impress. As the two develop a romantic but complicated relationship, Cindy learns to navigate the pressures of the show and her own insecurities.
This blog is created by Hannah and Ella in conjunction with the These Books Made Me podcast, a Prince George’s County Memorial Library System production. Check out the corresponding episode on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts.