Although fat positivity in the publishing industry has increased in the past few years, there are still relatively few books with fat-positive representation, especially for children and young adults. Today, I wanted to share a brief list of books that feature fat main characters in young adult literature. Though this list is not exhaustive, it includes a range of genres, plotlines, age-ranges, and intersecting identities.
1. Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy
Julie Murphy is also the author of the well-known young adult novel, Dumplin’, a New York Times bestseller. Faith: Taking Flight walks the line between children’s and young adult literature. Based on the comics, Faith: Taking Flight is the first installment of Faith Herbert’s two-part origin story. Faith’s life is relatively normal – she spends her time hanging out with her best friends, volunteering, or obsessing over her favorite TV show. When the show relocates to her small town and she crosses paths with its star – Dakota Ash, a biracial lesbian who might have feelings for Faith, her life suddenly gets more exciting. On top of all this, she’s also recently discovered she has hidden powers and finds herself at the center of a dangerous plot.
2. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
Crystal Maldonado’s debut novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega follows Charlie Vega, a fat, half Puerto Rican girl. The world has a lot to say about 16-year-old Charlie Vega – especially what she looks like. Although Charlie is working to internalize body-positive messages, it seems that everyone else has a problem with her weight, especially her mom. Luckily Charlie has Amelia, her confident, beautiful, amazing best friend. However, when Charlie’s crush, Brian, begins to pursue her, she discovers he asked Amelia out first. Charlie is forced to address the feelings of insecurity and self-doubt that she harbors within and embark on a true journey to discovering self-worth.
3. Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Darius The Great Is Not Okay is Adib Khorram’s debut novel. Darius Kellner is many things. He’s a total nerd, he’s half Persian (on his mom’s side), he’s clinically depressed, and he’s going to Iran for the first time in his life to visit a dying grandfather. Darius has never felt like he belonged, but all that changes when he meets Sohrab, the boy next door in Iran. Sohrab teaches Darius what it’s like to have a real friend, and Darius learns that he likes the version of himself Sohrab brings out. However, he also has to learn to love himself irregardless of whatever external forces surround him.
4. Love Is A Revolution by Renée Watson
Renée Watson’s Love Is A Revolution is a story about love – both the love we have for others and the love we have for ourselves. It follows Nala Robertson, a 17-year-old Black girl who’s focused on enjoying the summer before her senior year of high school with her friends. Her plans take a detour when she reluctantly attends an open mic night and meets Tye, an activist and community organizer. After telling a few lies to impress him, Nala is stuck juggling falsehoods as her feelings for Tye become stronger. Over the course of her summer, Nala embarks on a romantic adventure and finds herself simultaneously on a journey toward self love.
5. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera
Juliet Takes A Breath was first published in 2016. It has since been reprinted and adapted into a graphic novel. Juliet Takes A Breath follows Juliet Milagros Palante. Juliet is a queer Puerto Rican college student from New York, and she’s finally ready to grow into her life. After coming out to her family, she flies to Portland, Oregon to complete an internship with her favorite author. In Portland, Juliet is faced with numerous learning experiences, both good and bad. During her wild summer, she falls in and out of love, confronts her own shame and assumptions, and ultimately explores her identity as a queer brown woman.