Big Boned by Jo Watson

Lori Palmer is a plus-sized artist from bustling Johannesburg where she attends an art school, to a quiet coastal town in Cape Town which is filled with beautiful, thin and athletic students. She instantly misses her old school, her two best friends and her life before her parents got divorced. The move also exasperates Lori’s ongoing anxiety and hatred of her own body.

It was Lori’s mom who moved her and her brother Zac to Cape Town; leaving behind her Dad and new girlfriend, so that Zac can attend a specialist school, and also so she could expand her real estate business. Unfortunately for Lori, her Mom’s priority is definitely her business and Lori is left to look after Zac most of the time. She definitely doesn’t mind, but it is a lot of responsibility for a teenager.

The last thing Lori expected was to find out that the hottest boy from school; Jake, volunteers at Zac’s school and he actually has a sister with her own social difficulties. When the siblings become friends Jake and Lori agree to support them to have play dates and develop their own friendship which blossoms. However, Lori’s own low self-esteem prevents her from being able to see their relationship as anything more than a forced upon friendship.

Lori is working on her own anxieties and self-worth by visiting a psychiatrist. Her psychiatrist encourages her to acknowledge that although her issues stem from being bullied she is continuing to bully herself; which I thought was such a poignant thought. Although she has always been an artist, Lori identifies a new outlet for herself; spray painting.

So many different themes are addressed in this book but the most important thing is definitely acknowledgement of self-love and self-worth. As a YA novel I think this is so important! I did enjoy this book and it felt so fresh that it was set in South Africa instead of England or USA; usually when I read something based in Africa it is very much about the location which this wasn’t really. I would recommend picking this up and definitely sharing it with younger readers to remind them about acceptance and making a positive impact on those around them.

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