Monday, April 7, 2014

Fat Angie, by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo

“There was a girl. Her name was Angie. She was fat.”

Fat Angie is about a high school girl who has a lot on her plate (in more ways than one). Angie is overweight, lives with her couldn’t-be-bothered mother and mean adopted brother, and is tormented over her sister being captured in Iraq. Everyone at school is unbelievable cruel to her. Everyone, including Angie, refers to her as Fat Angie.

Angie and her sister were extremely close until she decided to join the military instead of going to college. When Angie gets the news that her sister has been captured, she attempts to commit suicide. She actually runs out on the football field with blood pouring from her wrists. Since then she attends therapy, classmates think she’s a freak, and teachers call her “special”. Her sister’s body is never found which gives Angie hope that she is alive and will return soon. Angie writes letters to her all the time and wears her too-small-for-Angie basketball t-shirt nearly every day. No one else shares Angie’s optimism and the mention of her sister in any negative way leads to a fight. Angie’s sister’s name is never mentioned.

Fat Angie’s high school life in pretty miserable. She gets name called, pushed, eats lunch alone, and counts as a way to calm herself when she has a flashback to her suicide attempt or her mind wanders to her sister. All that starts to change when a beautiful girl named K.C. Romance transfers in.

K.C. definitely stands out form the rest in her black combat boots and purple heart tattoo on her neck. She takes up for Angie when other kids try to bully her and makes an effort to befriend Angie. The attention the new girl starts to show in Angie waves a red flag for neighbor and friend of Angie’s sister, Jake. Jake warns Angie to be careful and that K.C. has “history”. It turns out that K.C. is a cutter. She confidently assures Angie that she no longer does that.

Throughout the beginning of the book there are subtle hints of attraction between Angie and K.C.. But K.C. makes it clear when she tells Angie she is gay and likes her. The truth is, Angie had never really given too much thought about her own sexuality. But when she is around K.C., Angie is Angie—not Fat Angie. She can be herself and is comfortable. No one is very accepting of this and their relationship becomes yet another reason why Angie is teased.

Angie’s sister is always on her mind, and in an effort to feel closer to her, Angie decides to try out for the basketball team. With much practice, dedication, and help from neighbor Jake, Angie makes the team and wears the same jersey number as her sister. In the process, Angie slims down a little, but is still referred to as Fat Angie. After a big game, Angie receives the devastating news that her sister’s remains had been found. She was indeed dead.

After the mourning, there are signs that Angie’s life will be looking up. The relationships with her mom, brother, and K.C. seem to be getting better.

“There was a girl. Her name was Angie. She was happy.”

I think this would be a great book for high school students to read in or out of the classroom. It deals with a lot of issues young people are all too familiar. From self image and family dynamics to bulling and sexuality. There is a theme of perseverance and I think students would benefit from reading a book from a new point of view. It would hopefully challenge students to have a more open mind.
Check out Fat Angie's Facebook page here.
And read about the cool things author e. E. Charlton-Trujillo is doing here.


Sarah Millen said...


This book sounds like it has so many different issues that our students can relate to in one way or another. Body issues, depression issues, identity issues, you name it. I see it every day at school.

I love your inclusion of the book trailer. It paints a great picture of your written review. I definitely feel for Angie—the trailer makes her appear stronger emotionally than she probably is. Keeping the intense confusion that’s going on in her head on a daily basis can be an extremely difficult thing to do.

Thanks for the review!

Vanessa Chairez said...

Hey Sarah,

Fat Angie seems to be a very interesting book. And I agree that this book would be great for a high school setting. It will also bring up great discussions in the classroom. I am curious to find out the ending of her story.

Also the trailer you provided was great it gave me a glance of the book as well.


Heather Nelson said...

Hey Sarah, Thanks for your review of Fat Angie. As Vanessa and Sarah have noted, I agree that this would be an excellent text for high school students to read.In addition to concerns with body image, I am glad to see you've reviewed a text that addresses mental health concerns and how we all need to support one another when a peer is struggling. Clearly, Angie is facing a very serious loss with her sister being missing, and I think that if we share texts with students that reflect the reality of life and infuse a sense of hope, texts like Fat Angie can affect change in school culture too. Thanks for sharing! -Heather

Giovani Toledo said...

I enjoy book where the protagonist seems to find some sort of alleviation to his/her issues, a resolution that comes from within. However, lately I have been wondering what are the implications of so many books portraying women and young girls as having these sort of problems? Yes, I understand that these problems do exist in an alarming number of the population. As I am also aware that most literature needs conflict. However, I am left to wonder what the implications of constantly depicting young girls in states of depression, insecurity, and sadness are. Where are the novels that explore a young woman's happiness as its central plot? Is there some sort of message that is communicated by fact that a great deal of literature depicts young girl's as image-obssesed, depressive young people?