Friday, October 30, 2009

Rosie Reading Update: My Big Fat Manifesto

Today, while downing a beef and cheddar sandwich with a side of potato cakes at Arby's, I finished My Big Fat Manifesto, by Susan Vaught.

The average person might have reconsidered their fast-food choices after reading that particular book, but most people will tell you, I don't really qualify as average. I sing in the grocery store, while I'm walking around all by myself.

Instead I just ended up resolving to not get ice cream on my way home from work as often, because Susan Vaught does a very good job making the world seem like not such a shiny place from Jamie Carcaterra's perspective.

Jamie, the self-described "Fat Girl" is taking her senior year by storm, writing for the paper, starring in the school musical, and enjoying her time with her football-star boyfriend, Burke. As Jamie starts her new column chronicling her experiences in the world, her plans fall apart.

Burke decides to get gastric bypass surgery, and Jamie starts getting negative attention from her community--people who aren't so happy about her Fat and Proud way of life. Burke's changes aren't just physical, and losing him might mean losing her friends Freddie and No-No too. And if the whole situation wasn't bad enough, her friend Heath might not just be a friend after all...

Somehow, Susan Vaught took the same boring plot (girl has boy, boy loves girl, girl loves boy, girl meets other boy, girl leaves one boy for other because all boys will fall in love with girl since she is so great and fabulous) and made it 1. not annoying and 2. fresh.

That being said, there were some problems with the side characters, the supporting cast, the extras.

Let's talk about dimensions.

There are a few.

Here is one: .

Here is another: _____________

Here is one more:

And another:

When we talk about characters, we usually refer to the last two...two dimensional and three dimensional.

If you are an author, you want more than anything to have your readers think you've created three dimensional characters. It means just what you think it does--the same thing it means in the movies. 3D means the image is going to pop out of the screen, just like that building really did just blow up, or like that guy's house really just picked itself up off its foundations and floated away...

You do not want two dimensional characters. Like...if I say the words "dumb blonde" to can picture the girl exactly. And it will be a girl. You won't see who she is, but what she is, and she will never be more to you than that first image.

It's the author's job to make that dumb blonde more than just a "dumb blonde."

Susan Vaught didn't pull it off.

Jamie is a great character! She's fun, interesting, full of depth! But no other character is even a quarter of the person Jaime is. You could take out the names of the other characters and jumble them around, and it would make little to no difference.

That's bad.

But I loved Jamie. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted to see what she'd do next. I wanted those stupid meanie people to leave her alone and just let her be happy.

No matter what, I still read this book like someone was about to rip it out of my hands, hold it above their head, and laugh at me while I jumped up and down trying to get it back.

That's very good.

You guys are going to have to judge for yourself.

The tally stands as follows:

Nominees: 21
Books read: 8
Books remaining: 13
Months left: 6

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