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Big Fat Manifesto

Big Fat Manifesto

4.2 9
by Susan Vaught

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Jamie is a senior in high school and, like so many kids in that year, doing too much—including trying to change the world—and fighting for her rights as a very fat girl. And not quietly: she's writing a column every week in the paper with her thoughts and fears and gripes. As her column raises all kinds of questions, so too, must she find her own


Jamie is a senior in high school and, like so many kids in that year, doing too much—including trying to change the world—and fighting for her rights as a very fat girl. And not quietly: she's writing a column every week in the paper with her thoughts and fears and gripes. As her column raises all kinds of questions, so too, must she find her own private way in her world, with love popping up in an unexpected place, and satisfaction in her size losing ground to real frustration. Tapping into her own experience losing weight, her training as a psychotherapist, and the current fascination in the media for teens who are trying drastic weight-loss measures including surgery, Susan Vaught's searing and hilarious prose will grip readers of all sizes, leaving them eager to hear more.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

High school senior Jamie Carcaterra is not just fat; as she puts it, "I am THE Fat Girl, baby." In an attempt to enlighten fellow classmates about the indignities and injustices she faces daily, Jamie writes a weekly feature for her high school paper and calls it the Fat Girl Manifesto. The manifesto could land her a journalism scholarship for feature writing, which she desperately desires. Vaught (Trigger) upends stereotypes about fat girls via Jamie's bracing, take-no-prisoners columns and in Jamie's first-person account of her year. The supremely confident Fat Girl persona is hard to resist, and more believable than many of the situations the author piles on: the fat boyfriend who undergoes risky gastric bypass surgery and suffers complications; the overblown media reaction to Jamie's columns; the blossoming romance with the handsome high school paper's editor-in-chief. The novel reads in places more like a rant than an emotionally involving story, and much of the Fat Girl Manifesto will be familiar (vanity sizing, the ineffectiveness of fad diets, etc.). But teens who persevere will be rewarded with some priceless scenes, such as Jamie and friends going undercover to document the discriminatory behavior of sales clerks in a clothing boutique; and with carefully prepared revelations, especially Jamie's eventual awareness that she may be more limited by her anger than by her weight. Thought-provoking and, frequently, vigorous. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
Jamie Carcaterra is fat. She's not "plus-sized" or "large," just fat. She is tired of living in a world made for skinny girls, and she is tired of being pressured to change from everyone. She knew her senior year of high school would be difficult with college applications, the ACT, play rehearsal, and the school paper, The Wire. However, she never expected to be dealing with her boyfriend Burke getting risky bariatric surgery to staple his stomach. While trying to be supportive of Burke's choice to risk his life to be thin, Jamie takes a deeper look at her own life—the everyday challenges of being overweight and how the rest of the world could learn a few things from a "fat girl." Jamie begins a weekly column in The Wire, which she signs as "Fat Girl" and writes to tell her fellow students at Garwood High School what life is like as an overweight teen. This is a great discussion book for both genders, and it is not afraid to put private questions out in the open. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

Jamie Carcaterra's feature series in the school newspaper is unapologetically called "Fat Girl." At more than three hundred pounds, the high school senior feels qualified to write about life as a self-described fat girl. She is loud, opinionated, and the only anger to which she admits is at society's manner of treating the overweight. But is she being honest with herself? Is she really okay with herself as a "fat girl"? In her articles, she writes about her inability to wear trendy, age-appropriate clothes simply because they are not available in her size and describes the scorn that she endures from the clerks at the teen clothing store. She does not write about her embarrassment when she arrives at an ACT testing site only to find that the seating does not accommodate her girth. When her equally large, football-player boyfriend decides to have bariatric surgery, she writes about his risks, setbacks, and progress. She does not write about her fear that he will no longer want her once he is a "normal" size. Jamie's character is so well drawn that readers will feel her misery throughout the book. The description of her humiliating experience in a doctor's office is agonizing. The book's one flaw is that the supporting characters lack depth, with her two best friends especially coming off as somewhat stereotypical. Despite that fault, the story is so well written that Jamie's agony is poignant to anyone, regardless of where one falls on the weight scale. Reviewer: Debbie Clifford
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
High school senior Jamie Carcaterra doesn't apologize for being fat. In fact, she proclaims her fatness from the rooftops-or from the pages of her school newspaper, to be exact, in an attempt to win a college journalism scholarship. Jamie explores issues such as discrimination, health, stereotypes, and more in this engaging novel, which includes her columns as well as her first-person narrative. Despite her outspokenness, the teen nevertheless struggles to come to terms with her weight-refusing to eat in public and feeling a mixture of shame and anger when an insensitive doctor examines her. It's her boyfriend's decision to have weight-loss surgery, however, that drives the plot. His medical trials raise questions for Jamie, and for readers. Is obesity more dangerous than surgery? Is it worth risking your life to be thin? While Jamie and her friends sometimes come across as overly quirky and eccentric, readers will generally root for these appealing outsiders. Jamie is a strong, interesting character who grows over the course of the novel, recognizing her own contradictions. This is a powerful story for readers of any weight.
—Miranda DoyleCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 7.62(h) x 1.14(d)
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Big Fat Manifesto 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The theme of weight loss is clearly the main topic in this shockingly true book by Susan Vaught. The first sentence of the novel is "I am so sick of reading books and articles about fat girls written by skinny women". I could not agree more. This is written in the newspaper articles titled "Fat Girl". This story starts with Jamie Carcaterra, a high school senior that is overweight. Although she is different than her classmates, she has great ambitions to obtain a scholarship for her articles and be a journalist. She goes on to proudly call herself "fat girl" in her school's newspaper and says that the way society views weight is not healthy or fair. She experiments this by going to a local store that only carries smaller sizes and recording the way she is treated. Not surprisingly, she is treated in a disrespectful and demeaning way. Vaught makes Jamie a relatable character because the emotions she feels are the same that any girl would have for being treated differently because of their appearance. Jamie flaunts her weight and says she sees no wrong in her "curves", yet when the store clerk at the clothing store does not want to attend her because of her size, she goes to the changing room and cries like any girl would. In contrast to Jamie's acceptance of her weight, her boyfriend Kurt is less accepting of his weight and takes drastic measures to change this. Kurt decides to have a gastric bypass surgery even though he knows this could be dangerous. The realism that Vaught uses to describe this procedure is disgustingly true and sheds light on the truth about weight loss surgeries. Vaught describes this whole procedure from the side effects and dangers to the aftermath. Someone that does not know about this surgery can learn a lot from this. During the surgery, Kurt has a complication and stops breathing so the surgery does have dangers. In addition to this, Kurt loses his hair and cannot eat solid food for a while. The part that will really wake readers up is when Kurt froths because since his stomach is smaller now, it digests food faster and comes out his nose and mouth as green froth. A person will think twice about weight loss surgery after reading that Kurt "dumps" after eating a candy bar now that he had this surgery. This novel is the truth about being overweight in today's society. Besides showing the difficulty of being overweight in today's society, it also shows the dangers of weight loss. The theme is obviously the wrong turn society has taken in its view of the ideal body and Susan Vaught successfully shares with us the pain and discrimination that comes with being overweight. However, she speaks on the side of Jamie, the overweight teenage girl. Even though people may look down on her or even overlook her, she is ambitious and driven, happy with the way she is. Vaught makes us all change position to supporting the overweight teenage girl. This also empowers us to feel confident with ourselves. If Jamie Carcaterra is happy with her full figured body then anyone can. Finally a book about fat girls that speaks the truth. Not just the dangers of being overweight, but the real emotions and feelings that are behind the weight. Not just a book about fat girls written by skinny women that are trying to understand them.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book as an advanced readers copy and i thought it was amazing. I am not a fat girl but if i was this is the kind of fat girl i would want to be. scratch that i would want to be like Jamie any day of the week! AMAZING BOOK
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am very glad i read this book
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Does the world discriminate against fat people? Jamie Carcaterra thinks they do, and she is out to change things.

Proudly calling herself "Fat Girl," Jamie has started a feature column by the same name in The Wire, her school newspaper. Making people aware of the unfairness suffered by overweight people is her goal. She is also hoping her top-notch journalistic efforts will help her win the National Feature Award which could earn her a fully paid college education.

With the help of her friends, Freddie and NoNo, Jamie has planned an attack on a popular clothing retailer offering clothes in sizes designed for the very thin. Jamie weighs in at over 300 pounds, and her plan is to enter the store, request an item, and demand a fitting room to try it on. Armed with her notepad and a video camera, she gathers material for her column.

Jamie is comfortable with her size. She doesn't try to disguise the fact that she is fat. Her mother is fat. Her father is fat. Her boyfriend, Burke, is fat, but not for long. Another issue Jamie explores in her feature column is the fact that Burke has decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery. The risks are enormous (pardon the pun) but Burke tells Jamie he is tired of it all. She agrees to support him, but will things ever be the same?

Teen readers of all sizes will relate to Jamie. She has lots of friends, is active in school activities, and is feeling the stress of senior year with ACT pressure, college applications, and financial concerns. She candidly reveals her thoughts and feelings about being fat in a world that worships those who are thin.

BIG FAT MANIFESTO is a must-read. Susan Vaught offers everything in this book. She has great characters, humor, roller-coaster emotions, and romance along with interesting statistics and opinions about being overweight. I hope she will give us another peek into the life of Jamie Carcaterra some day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, this book was very entertaining and the author writes very well. I laughed a lot. Now, as an 8th grade teacher, I am not going to put it on my shelves. It has too much foul language.