for a lighthearted YA novel, for an MC who works on being ok with her body image, for an MC with a fairly unusual goal of being a standup comedian
Haylah Swinton is an ace best friend, a loving daughter, and an incredibly patient sister to a four-year-old nutcase of a brother. Best of all, she’s pretty confident she’s mastered making light of every situation–from her mom’s new boyfriend to unsolicited remarks on her plus-sized figure. Haylah’s learning to embrace all of her curvy parts and, besides, she has a secret: one day, she’ll be a stand-up comedian star.
So when impossibly cool and thirstalicious Leo reveals he’s also into comedy, Haylah jumps at the chance to ghost-write his sets. But is Leo as interested in returning the favor? Even though her friends warn her of Leo’s intentions, Haylah’s not ready to listen–and she might just be digging herself deeper toward heartbreak. If Haylah’s ever going to step into the spotlight, first she’ll need to find the confidence to put herself out there and strut like the boss she really is.
Okay, I feel like the #1 question about this book should be “the main character wants to be a stand up comedian, so is the book funny?” and I can report that it’s more or less a yes. The plot itself is a standard YA coming of age sort of read, but the moments of specific comedic routines are funny enough. They’re delivered by high school students, so that’s the experience the material focuses on, but if you can pass yourself back to that age you can probably get a chuckle or two.
Haylah has a common defense mechanism that’s the “I’ll say it before they can” attempt at ownership. She fiercely maintains the nickname Pig (despite how gorgeous the name Haylah is) but feels less and less happy about the way she’s living by labeling herself as fat to every person she meets.
The change doesn’t come easy, though, as even her best friends don’t recognize Haylah’s (I refuse to call her Pig) unhappiness in her role as the fat funny friend. Their difficulty in understanding the seemingly abrupt change in Haylah’s personality resonates with the main concerns in your midteens, when it can be hard enough to deal with your own issues, let alone figure out others’. The way she views herself and the growth through the book sounds real enough to me, but I’ve heard others mention that it felt like a flat or unhealthy portrayal of fat rep.
Mixed in with all of this was Haylah’s tending to her little brother and her mother in a single parent family. Her own body images are challenged when her mother starts dating a new guy and begins doing those things women do when they’re starting a new relationship; shaving your legs consistently; experimenting with a new hairstyle; realizing you giggle way more than you thought. These elements come into play with the rest of the story to enhance both sides, but sometimes it was painful to watch Haylah self-destruct a little bit.
Overall this was a fun light read with a fairly familiar structure. The unique element here is that Haylah is working on becoming a stand up comic, which personally is not a goal I have seen in much young adult lit (and especially for a female character).
Thanks to Edelweiss for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.