by Ellen Potter
Opening line–”My name is Owen Birnbaum, and I’m probably fatter than you are.”
I am really not a fan of a lot of realistic teen literature, especially of the variety that was published back when I actually was a teen. It always felt like an adult took all of the issues they thought some teen might struggle with and mixed them all up into one book which was all about teach a Lesson and nothing else. Okay, I’m being a bit harsh, but I bet those of you who are around my age know what I’m talking about. All that is basically to say that I have a history with realistic kid’s lit.
What I don’t have an issue with is good writing and well-done characters. That is, of course, exactly what Ellen Potter gives us here, because Ellen Potter is awesome. At first this book seemed liked it would be a good read, but not particularly memorable. But as the story unfolded, I found myself really caring about all of the characters. In that sense, the slow build to the revelation of Owen’s past really worked.
I also found Owen very likable. He obviously has some issues, but he’s funny about them. His voice captured the self-deprecation that is very present in his character. Yet, despite the fact that he begins the story with his weight, I never felt like his voice was defined, or perhaps confined, by it.
At the end of the day, this book isn’t really about Owen’s weight. It’s about family and friends and loss, and what we do to hold onto or avoid all of those. And isn’t that what almost all good books are about?
Book source: public library
Book information: Philomel, 2009
My other Ellen Potter review:
Also, I can’t wait to read The Kneebone Boy, because the cover art is amazing! And the story sounds pretty neat too.