Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy

3.8 8
by Bil Wright

View All Available Formats & Editions

In this spirited exploration of strength and personality, a fabulous NYC teen knows he’s destined for greatness—if only he can survive his first job.

Carlos Duarte knows that he’s fabulous. He’s got a better sense of style than half the fashionistas in New York City, and he can definitely apply makeup like nobody’s business.


In this spirited exploration of strength and personality, a fabulous NYC teen knows he’s destined for greatness—if only he can survive his first job.

Carlos Duarte knows that he’s fabulous. He’s got a better sense of style than half the fashionistas in New York City, and he can definitely apply makeup like nobody’s business. He may only be in high school, but when he lands the job of his dreams—makeup artist at the FeatureFace counter in Macy’s—he's sure that he’s finally on his way to great things.
     But the makeup artist world is competitive and cutthroat, and for Carlos to reach his dreams, he'll have to believe in himself more than ever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wright (When the Black Girl Sings) gives voice, complexity, and heart to the kind of character often relegated to a cliché sidekick role. Sixteen-year-old Carlos Duarte's dream is to become a famous makeup artist ("I've had subscriptions to Vogue and Harper's Bazaar since I was fourteen... so I knew what I was doing was beyond genius"). His considerable skills land him a plum job working the FeatureFace Cosmetics counter at Macy's, despite the reservations of manager Valentino. It's not long before Valentino and Carlos clash, and things at home are tough as well: Carlos's mother has lost her job, and his older sister is getting abused by her boyfriend, who is also harassing Carlos for being gay. Carlos's single-minded drive for success leaves some casualties in his wake (as when a borrowed pair of "beyond incredible" boots are damaged when he's assaulted), but his big heart, optimism, and powers of persuasion are infectious. And given the very realistic harassment Carlos regularly suffers, those attributes are a survival skill, too. He's a walking example of the inner strength teens need—regardless of their sexuality. Ages 12–up. (July)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Carlos Duarte, 16, has tremendous confidence. He does what he does and makes few apologies—and what he does best is makeup. The teen is fearless in his determination to realize his dream of becoming a makeup artist to the stars. His first job is at the FeatureFace counter, the premiere makeup company in Macy's flagship store. He is sure that this job will launch him into the stratosphere of fame, but pride and ambition cause him to take action without considering the consequences. Carlos struggles to develop a sense of accountability, and making his life more difficult are his sister's abusive boyfriend and his own one-sided crush on a boy in school. Readers will simultaneously root for and marvel at this fascinating character, though their support will be tested by his mean-spirited comments. Unfortunately, Carlos tends to overwhelm the plot and the other characters, who fall a little flat in his shadow. It is a relief that Wright does not give the story a tidy ending, opting instead to leave a few strands untied. After all, Carlos still has places to go.—Naphtali L. Faris, Youth Services Consultant, Missouri State Library, Jefferson City, MO
From the Publisher
"Wright gives voice, complexity, and heart to the kind of character often relegated to a cliché sidekick role...[Carlos is] a walking example of the inner strength teens need—regardless of their sexuality."
Publishers Weekly

"Wright’s occasionally flashy but mostly straightforward...prose should work equally well for bookish and non-bookish readers."—Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will simultaneously root for and marvel at this fascinating character."—School Library Journal

"There's a whole lot going on in Wright’s novel, but it’s handled deftly and, for the most part, believably. Best of all, Carlos is not completely defined by his homosexuality. It is an important part of him, yes, but so are his ambition, his concern for his sister, and his capacity for friendship."—Booklist

"A fast-paced and humorous chick-lit read, Carlos is sure of himself and yet willing to acknowledge when he makes mistakes. His loyalty to friends and family and grace under pressure come through as he overcomes stereotyping to achieve his goal."—Library Media Connection

Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
Carlos wants to be a makeup artist and is hired at the age of sixteen for the FeatureFace counter at Macy's in New York for weekends. The district manager hires Carlos over objections by the local makeup artist, Valentino, which makes their working relationship difficult. Carlos still attends school and is attracted to one of the boys who did the photos of people's makeup that got Carlos hired. Meanwhile, his older sister Rosalia is being abused by her boyfriend. Mom loses her job at a drycleaners but gets another one part time. Carlos is able to contribute to the family finances. He has an opportunity to do makeup for Shirlena, a well-known TV personality, and helps himself to cosmetics at Macy's. Valentino is upset that Carlos has the TV job and wants to press charges of stealing makeup. His mother wants him to do something about Rosalia's boyfriend, who subsequently beats him up. Actually Carlos seems more concerned about his future in cosmetics than about his sister. Valentino's charge of stealing is worked out in a different way by the district manager. This story will be interesting to a special audience. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
Kirkus Reviews

Carlos, 16 and fabulous, justknowshe's going to be famous.

Cocky but playful—"I had just the slightest touch of color in my cheeks. I'd given myself a manicure. I lookedbeyond excellent!"—Carlos strides purposefully toward his goal: Makeup artist to the stars. Zipping around Manhattan, he obtains employment with a hip, prestigious cosmetics company in Macy's and nabs a position working for the star of aSaturday Night Liveequivalent. His campy voice ("seriously gorgeous bootay. Tight and round and perched, honey, perched!") turns bitchy sometimes. He also needs to learn accountability for his actions: Macy's makeup really can't leave the store before being paid for, no matter how famous the star requesting it, and Stella McCartney boots begged from a friend must be returned pristine. Carlos loses that friend but narrowly saves his job; he also fights his sister's abuser (who calls Carlos "maricón") and strains for dignity when a kind but clueless straight boy tells Carlos to his face that he doesn't return his crush. Wright's occasionally flashy but mostly straightforward (often even clunky) prose should work equally well for bookish and non-bookish readers; the excellent treatment of a gay, Latino teen is marred only by ruthless slamming of fat friend Angie.

He may step on some toes along the way, but this fat boy's going places.(Fiction. 11-15)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

When I was twelve, I convinced my mother to let me do her makeup for Parents’ Night. When I was finished, my sister, Rosalia, who was fifteen, said, “Ma, aren’t ya even gonna say anything?”

Ma said to me, “All right, so it looks nice, Carlos. But I don’t think I should be encouraging something like this. I’m not gonna go to your school and tell your teacher, ‘See my face! Isn’t it pretty? My son did my makeup. Didn’t he do an excellent job?”

Rosalia asked, “Why not?”

Ma said, “You know why not! Don’t make me say it.”

Rosalia put her hands on her hips. “You know what, Ma? Carlos is talented, that’s what he is. He’s probably gonna be famous one day for being so talented, and you should be happy he can do something this good so young!”

After Ma went to Parents’ Night, Rosalia and I went to McDonald’s. Rosalia told me again she thought I was talented and that I was gonna be famous. I asked her to buy me an extra bag of chocolate chip cookies and an all-chocolate sundae to prove she really meant it.

• • •

By the time I got to Sojourner Truth/John F. Kennedy Freedom High School, I knew if other people could get paid as makeup artists, I could too. I already had a job after school being an assistant to all the teachers in a day care program. I didn’t love my job, but I did love being able to go shopping for makeup at Little Ricky’s on Thirteenth Street, where they had the wildest stuff. I’d run home, lock my bedroom door, and try it out immediately. Sitting on the side of my bed, studying my face in my two-sided makeup mirror (one for normal view, one for super-close-up) was like school after school. It was me practicing the thing that I knew would make me famous someday.

No matter what any of them said, the girls at school had to admit I was an expert. And the boys who got away with eyeliner because they were supposedly rockers even asked me for tips on how to put it on straight. I was really happy to tell them, because crooked eyeliner is so whack, it makes me nuts.

My friend Angie suggested, “Carlos, now that you’re sixteen, you should come to Macy’s and try to get a part-time job at a makeup counter.” She worked there on Saturdays and she bugged me from the beginning of school in September. “You have to go and apply for a job before the holidays. That’s when they need all the help they can get. I bet you could work for any company you wanted—Chanel, Bobbi Brown, Dolce & Gabbana. Any of them.”

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but the idea of it made me stop breathing for . . . well, a few seconds at least. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it first. I guess I’d only pictured doing Mary J. Blige’s makeup before a concert, or maybe Rihanna’s, or taking a month off from school to go on tour with Janet Jackson because she insisted if she didn’t have me she couldn’t do the tour. I hadn’t thought about working at a department store.

Even though I was sure of what I could do, I thought working for Macy’s was a long shot, a fantasy that was nice to talk and dream about, but soooo unlikely.

I asked her, “Angie, do you think a big, famous store like Macy’s would really hire me? I don’t have any professional experience.”

And good old Angie said, “Honey, all we have to do is get you an application. Then we’ll come up with a fake rÉsumÉ. We’ll put my cell number on it. When they call, I’ll answer, ‘Greenberg’s Department Store’ and tell them, ‘Carlos Duarte? You’d be lucky to get him! He’s fabulous!’”

Angie worked on the tenth floor in the Linens department at Macy’s. But selling pillowcases and Martha Stewart sheet sets didn’t mean she knew a whole lot about how they hired people in the makeup department. “I’m pretty sure it’s not that easy, Angie. Can’t you make friends with somebody at one of the counters and ask them how they hire?”

And of course Angie said in her typical I-was-just-playin’-’cause-I-don’t-really-have-enuff-courage-to-do-what-I-said Angie way, “I can’t go down there! They all look so beautiful . . . and so mean.”

“Are you kidding me? ‘They all look so beautiful’? I’ve passed by makeup counters hundreds of times, including the ones at Macy’s, and the people who work at those counters have on a ton of makeup, but that doesn’t mean they’re beautiful! And if they look mean, maybe it’s because it’s hot standing around under those fluorescent lights wearing that much makeup whether you want to or not. Can you just get over yourself and go down and ask them? Get me a stupid application? This is important! And besides, it was your idea in the first place!”

“Maybe if I lose five pounds by Saturday when I go to work, I’ll get up the courage to ask one of them.”

“But, Angie, they don’t care how much you weigh! And I guarantee you, you have a prettier face than most of them. Look, if you want, I’ll get up early on Saturday and come over to your apartment and do your makeup. That way maybe when you see that your makeup looks better than most of theirs, you’ll be able to get up enough courage to help your very best friend get the job you know he deserves!”

As usual, when Angie’s insecurity took over her brain, everything I liked about her, including her common sense, suddenly disappeared. “If you want the job that badly, why don’t you just show up and ask them yourself?” She was all huffed up.

“Angie, it was brilliant of you to think that I should apply there for a job. And I totally mean brilliant. But that makes sense, because you’re brilliant. Most of the time. But now, could you tell me what sense it makes for me to go there on Saturday and ask how I can apply for a job and what would make me qualified, then show up there the next Saturday acting like I’ve had so much experience? I mean, what do I say when they ask me, ‘If you have so much experience doing this, why did you need to come in and ask how somebody gets hired to do it in the first place?’”

Angie was losing it. “I don’t know! Just tell them you thought maybe different department stores had different ways of doing things!”

“Yeah, and that would make me sound like I’d worked in dozens and dozens of them, wouldn’t it?” I shook my head sadly like I couldn’t believe Angie was trying to snatch away my dream for a career in makeup after putting it under my nose like a liver dog treat to a puppy. “Forget it, Ange.” I put my hand up between us. “Don’t give it another thought. Maybe I can Google it or something and find out that way.” Then I added pitifully, “Thanks.”

“Ohmygod, Carlos! All right! If you do my makeup, I’ll go down to the first floor on my break and ask one of those mean, snotty-looking would-be models how to apply for a job there. Making it absolutely clear that I don’t mean for myself! And I’ll do it whether I’ve lost five pounds or not.”

“Ooooh!” I squealed, and yes, I do definitely squeal, I have to admit it. And the more excited I am, the higher it is. “Do you promise?”

“Yessssss, I promise!” Angie rolled her eyes and shook her head. Then she said, “If you promise me something!”

“Anything, Ange, anything!” I knew she was gonna ask that, when we both worked at Macy’s, I do her makeup every Saturday, and I was more than happy to say yes.

She looked at me very seriously and lifted her head like I better get ready, so I did. “You better promise that when you get hired there and everybody knows you and thinks you’re talented and great . . .”

“And they will,” I flicked my head to the side with one hand on my hip. “You know they will, girl.”

“Yeah, well you better promise that no matter how popular you are, you won’t start acting weird like you’re embarrassed to be with me or something.”

“Angie,” I said, just as serious as she was, “I’m sorry you have this condition that makes you say and even think insane things. So, what I’m going to do until you can get yourself healed is just say, Hon, I love you and I’ll always love you, whether you’re a hundred and three pounds or three hundred and one pounds. I’m just hoping that you won’t wind up being three hundred and one pounds. Because, first, it isn’t healthy, and, second, you’ll want to be on one of those weight-loss shows, and then I will have to disown you because I think they’re just so tacky! I’d die, Ange, I really would!”

Angie said, “And I don’t think we have to worry about me ever being a hundred and three pounds, unless somebody sews my mouth shut!” She laughed, one of her big old Angie laughs, which is one of my favorite sights and sounds in the world.

And I started picturing myself behind the biggest, most fabulous makeup counter in Macy’s.

© 2011 Bil Wright

Meet the Author

Bil Wright is an award-winning novelist and playwright. His novels include Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (Lambda Literary Award and American Library Association Stonewall Book Award), the highly acclaimed When the Black Girl Sings (Junior Library Guild selection), and the critically acclaimed Sunday You Learn How to Box. His plays include Bloodsummer Rituals, based on the life of poet Audre Lorde (Jerome Fellowship), and Leave Me a Message (San Diego Human Rights Festival premiere). He is the Librettist for This One Girl’s Story (GLAAD nominee) and the winner of a LAMI (La Mama Playwriting Award). An associate professor of English at CUNY, Bil Wright lives in New York City. Visit him at BilWright.com.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >