Big Fat Disaster

( 2 )

Overview

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a ...

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Big Fat Disaster

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Overview

Insecure, shy, and way overweight, Colby hates the limelight as much as her pageant-pretty mom and sisters love it. It's her life: Dad's a superstar, running for office on a family values platform. Then suddenly, he ditches his marriage for a younger woman and gets caught stealing money from the campaign. Everyone hates Colby for finding out and blowing the whistle on him. From a mansion, they end up in a poor relative's trailer, where her mom's contempt swells right along with Colby's supersized jeans. Then, a cruel video of Colby half-dressed, made by her cousin Ryan, finds its way onto the internet. Colby plans her own death. A tragic family accident intervenes, and Colby's role in it seems to paint her as a hero, but she's only a fraud. Finally, threatened with exposure, Colby must face facts about her selfish mother and her own shame. Harrowing and hopeful, proof that the truth that saves us can come with a fierce and terrible price, Big Fat Disaster is that rare thing, a story that is authentically new.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Colby's life...is difficult enough, but it gets worse very quickly once she discovers a photo of her politician father kissing another woman. The fast pace, lively...dialogue, and timely topic make it a quick and enjoyable read." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Ann McDuffie
Colby is insecure and overweight, with a picture-perfect mother and popular politician father. When dad dumps the family for another woman and gets caught stealing campaign money, Colby, along with her spoiled mother and sisters, ends up living in a poor relative’s trailer. Verbally abused by her bitter mother, Colby turns to food for relief, which only piles on the pounds. To add to her misery, a cruel video of Colby, made by her cousin Ryan, is stolen and posted on Facebook. Unable to deal with the bullying and ridicule at school and home, Colby plans her own death. In his attempt to save her, Ryan is killed, but a misunderstanding paints Colby as the hero. When a witness threatens to reveal her secret, Colby must face the truth about her selfish mother and her own behavior. Big Fat Disaster is not the typical fat-girl-gets-thin story. Instead, in this complex story of a victim who faces all kinds of disappointment, Colby’s intense pain and suffering bleed off the pages. Her voice rings true, and anyone dealing with feelings of low self-worth will relate. Drawbacks include a somewhat predictable plot and a few loose ends. Some minor confusion in chronology after Colby’s second suicide attempt can be easily rectified with editing. On the whole, this is a gripping story of one girl’s personal transformation. Reviewer: Ann McDuffie; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-02-19
Colby's life as the heavy daughter of a disapproving former Miss Texas beauty queen is difficult enough, but it gets worse very quickly once she discovers a photo of her politician father kissing another woman. She and her mother and little sister move to a trailer in a tiny Texas community. She has an agonizing first day of school crammed into blue jeans so tight that she needs a coat hanger to pull the zipper up—and then she discovers that her cousin made a video of her trying to get into her jeans, which gets posted to Facebook. Colby copes with each terrible event the way she always has, with huge amounts of sweets followed by shame, and spirals ever deeper into depression. Readers experience the events through Colby's present-tense narration, hearing her perceptive take on people: "Mom does that: She nods and smiles even when she thinks the person speaking is full of shit…." Fehlbaum draws a razor-sharp picture of Colby's judgmental grandparents, her quirky teachers and, most of all, Colby herself and her terrifying mother, who can't empathize at all. When Colby finally gets help at the end from a therapist and others, Fehlbaum makes it clear that her road ahead will be long and hard. Colby's experiences, while extreme, ring true, and the fast pace, lively and profane dialogue, and timely topic make it a quick and enjoyable read. (Fiction. 12-16)
School Library Journal
07/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—Colby is fat, and her family never lets her forget it. Her family appears perfect on the outside—politician father, beauty-queen mother, two perfect sisters. Her father is in the midst of an important campaign when Colby accidentally discovers a photograph of him with another woman. Once her father's affair and misuse of campaign money are exposed to the media, the image her family has tried to maintain is destroyed. After her father abandons them, Colby, her sisters, and their mother have no choice but to move into a trailer behind her estranged aunt's house in Texas, and the family blames her for their misfortune. The teen must now struggle to survive in a community in which everyone hates her not only for her appearance or for what her father did, but for her very existence. Fehlbaum focuses on many of the issues that teenagers deal with today: body-image shaming, eating disorders, domestic violence, bullying, rape, depression, victim blaming, and suicide. Colby's story can be emotionally upsetting and frustrating; at times it seems as if she cannot catch a break. This book is best suited for mature readers.—Annalise Ammer, City of Rochester Public Libraries, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440570483
  • Publisher: Adams Media
  • Publication date: 4/18/2014
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 584,107
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

A longtime English teacher, speaker, advocate for abuse survivors, and founder of the gritty YA fiction website UncommonYA, Beth Fehlbaum is the author of Hope in Patience, a 2011 Young Adult Library Services Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. Big Fat Disaster grew out of her own struggle with an eating disorder. Visit her on the web at www.bethfehlbaumbooks.com, www.uncommonya.com, and the Merit Press Facebook page. She lives in Texas.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 3, 2014

    A Realistic Binge with a Message of Hope After reading the auth

    A Realistic Binge with a Message of Hope

    After reading the author’s bio and discovering she is a teacher, I expected the typical YA drama about overcoming social/ inner conflict characteristic of the teenage world, rising above peer pressure, understanding the values of friendship versus status, volunteering and community service, etc. BIG FAT DISASTER is far from any PBS After School Special. Prepare to become very uncomfortable.

    The story is told from the perspective of fifteen-year-old, Colby Denton, as she starts a new life in the one-church, East Texas town of Piney Creek. Having spent my first 22 years in South Texas, I can testify to the authenticity of Piney Creek and its people. Ms. Fehlbaum nails it. Every character speaks with a voice unique enough to tell them apart without dialogue tags and so real they could easily be the snobby Maybelline princess next door or vato loco punk terrorizing kids on the school bus. She even gets the dog in the front yard recliner right.

    Colby’s voice gives us a brilliant view of the pressures for a young lady coming of age, accurate and heartfelt for any teen, yet Colby is far from typical. The conflict she faces daily, through both self-infliction and 360 degrees of abuse, creates a plot that gains momentum with each chapter, spiraling to an unavoidable climax and perfect landing. But what I loved most about Colby was her awkward moments where she is still a child, yet having to deal with adult issues around grown-ups who act like children. The best part? This is exactly how some parents act, and the author pulls no stops at revealing just how low some will stoop to save public face.

    There are multiple themes present, but I felt Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter parallel of “hypocrisy of the judgmental” was perhaps the strongest. I also appreciated the way it is crafted into the story: seamless and invisible, yet deliberate.

    Finally, a good portion of this book deals with suicide. The counselor, Dr. Matthews, serves as both a guardian angel for Colby, but more importantly, a voice for every educator or mentor with teen/ YA suicide experience. His lessons of hope are not fiction, but based on true intervention counseling. Given the framework of the story, I felt the self-actualization techniques of control were so much clearer as opposed to the mandatory suicide prevention training I’ve dealt with in the past. It really hit home. This book should be mandatory reading for every teen prior to high school.

    For outstanding voice, plot, humor, and most of all, heart. I strongly recommend BIG FAT DISASTER with five-stars.

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  • Posted July 20, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I loved this book. So raw and heartfelt. Colby is a plus sized g

    I loved this book. So raw and heartfelt. Colby is a plus sized girl who uncovered how her dad, Senate candidate with family values, embezzled from his campaign and cheated on his wife. Not only does she feel personally responsible for the destruction of her family, but her mom doesn't stop insulting her about her weight. I felt as if I was Colby and went through what she goes through with her. An amazing read. Definitely one of my favorites for the year.

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