Beautiful, he says. Fat, I think. But can’t I be both at the same time?

When I was in high school, I received several comments that were not nice at all about my physique, simply because I was more voluptuous than the rest. And for a long time I kept within me a feeling of insecurity and repulsion towards myself, I thought there was something wrong with me because I was not the same as the others. It took me a long time and it a lot of work, but in the end I learned to be happy with myself, to accept my faults and to show off that what matters most is what cannot be defined by the physical appearance.

I wanted to share with you this small fragment of my life so that you could get an idea of why I liked this book so much, I dare to say this was one of the best contemporary books I have had the opportunity to read, it was the best way to start this year (I finished reading it early in the morning of January 1st).

I can bet that several of you have already seen the exclusive Netflix film based on this novel, and although they have done an excellent job, we must admit that the book surpasses it by far (as usually happens 90% of the time a book is adapted to the screen). This novel shows us in a fresh and entertaining manner several aspects of the life of an overweight teen whose mother is the president and former queen of the most important beauty pageant in Texas.

Willowdean, our protagonist, is a complex character who shows us more than anything a somewhat hostile behavior, as if she was always on the defensive; her pain and fear of rejection are exposed in this way, increasing her personal insecurity, and that is why most of the time she projects a facade of superiority to cover her own fears. While her best friend is always supportive and non-judgmental, Will is so consumed and terrified by her inner ghosts that she finds it easy to question Ellen’s friendship and affection.

The place where the story takes place is nothing more and nothing less than one of the most conservative states in the United States, so we must bear in mind the role of women within this closed society in which everyone expects girls to distinguish themselves not only by their good behaviour but also by taking care of their physical appearance and femininity. Murphy could not choose a better location for her work, placing a character with Will’s characteristics in such a place allows the reader to easily detect the contrasts that the author needs us to see. Will’s presence in this community is very palpable, her personality is very different from that of the rest of the characters, and although she is always struggling with herself, she manages to set a different pattern. Her main objective is for everyone to understand that there is something more valuable than the physical appearance and that this does not define you.

This story motivates you and helps you embrace your own demons, to love and accept yourself as you are; it shows us not to take for granted one of the most valuable things in life, the love and support of our true friends. I don’t want to give you more details or go deeper into the story because you need to explore and discover for yourselves the other characters whose mission is to open Willowdean’s eyes.

Reading this book was both moving and comforting as it reminded me of valuable episodes from my own history. I trust you will give this book a chance, whether you like it or not to read contemporary books, I can assure you that you will not regret reading this book.