I tried really hard to find the positives whilst reading this book, but I truly struggled. It got to the point where I had to stop myself from detesting it every time I picked it up, which is definitely not something I look for! I must disclaim, these are my own opinions and my own interpretation of my reading experience. If you enjoyed it, that’s great! It just wasn’t for me and really rubbed me the wrong way, so please no hate! Reading is subjective and we can all get along without bitter disagreements.
I was expecting a book full of body positivity and confidence, a book I wish I’d had as a teen but that’s not the feeling I got coming away from it. There was also a lot of judgement towards other people and their bodies from the main character Willowdean, which to me felt counterproductive? Willowdean truly was a horrible character, and her personality (not her appearance as she continuously assumed in the book) made her an ugly person on the inside.
I honestly did not understand the romance as there was so little chemistry between them, and Willowdean probably only liked him because he was tall and athletic… she even pushed away another love interest, who coincidentally had a similar body-type to her? Now I understand if there’s little chemistry, but this other love interest was so nice it felt like Willowdean was deliberately trying to not get close to him because of this strange fascination about Bo. Especially as she mentioned the lack of chemistry between her and Mitch, but there was so little chemisty between her and Bo?
She also treated her best friend awfully. Immediately hated and bitched about this new friend that her best friend made at work, she straight away assumed the worst from her and spoke back-handedly at her, assumed that Callie was staring at her body in the swimsuit (which I highly doubt was happening). There was no need for girl-hate and I despise it whenever I see it. When the other girls wanted to join the pageant to make a statement, Willowdean kept causing a fuss and throwing a tantrum, stating she was doing it because ‘there’s no reason she shouldn’t’.
Willowdean was also so disrespectful towards her mother and her passion. It appears that she only entered the pageant to make a mockery of her mum’s career and the other girls entering, instead of ‘there’s no reason she shouldn’t’. I saw her mother as being caring, encouraging healthy eating is not a sign of her mother not being proud of her, it’s TO BE HEALTHIER.
Another small point, Willowdean referenced her mother’s other job as ‘just wiping old peoples bums’, as someone who works in a hospital and looks after ill, elderly people, this comment really hit a nerve and showed Willowdean as the immature and ungrateful person that she was.
On a good note though, I loved the side characters, so much so that I would’ve loved this book if we focused more on them and completely removed Willowdean. Millie was much more of a positive character that Willowdean could ever dream to be. She knew that her body type was not typical for a beauty pageant, but she still dove in head-first and gave it her all with such immense enthusiasm and strength. I did also like the Dolly Parton references, and the scene at the drag show was really lovely.
Overall, this book was less of a ‘body positivity’ message and more of a temper tantrum from an overweight character. I’m all for body positivity, but if you need to push other people’s body types down in order to feel better about your own, that’s going in the wrong and dangerous direction.