Item description for Manstealing for Fat Girls by Michelle Embree...
Overview Three misfits--Angie, an overweight girl who is befriended by an anorexic girl; Inez, a drug dealer who has disproportionately sized breasts; and Shelby, a lesbian--try to navigate the turbulent waters of high school.
This off-kilter novel centers on three girls who are definitely not part of the in crowd: one's fat, one's a dyke, and one is missing a breast. Nicknamed “Lezzylard” by her classmates, Angie is seduced by the prettiest girl in school, an anorexic who just wants to make imaginary grocery lists. Inez, the school's pot dealer, can't shoplift because security guards are mesmerized by her single enormous breast. Shelby and Angie can't be together, because then everyone will think Angie's only a dyke because she's too fat to get a guy. Manstealing for Fat Girls explodes the locus where patriarchal and class violence intersect, while embracing all that is magical — and dangerous — about adolescence. Set in a working class suburb of St. Louis in the 1980s, the book is replete with music and pop culture references of the era, but the bullying, lunch table treachery, and desperate desire to fit in ring true for every generation.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.55 lbs.
Release Date Jan 10, 2006
Publisher Soft Skull Press
ISBN 1933368020 ISBN13 9781933368023
Reviews - What do customers think about Manstealing for Fat Girls?
MsFrisby, you missed the point Jun 26, 2006
As this book's editor, I'm hardly objective. That said, I'm also a reader and my opinion of the review below is that MsFrisby missed the point. Manstealing for Fat Girls has sex, drinking and drugs in it. So do most kids lives these days. Whether they do or don't engage in any of the above, they know kids who do. The book shows how a real, literary heroine navigates these dangers as well as unnamable ones--patriarchy, homophobia and a class system that also negates her worth as a human being. The "lessons" for young readers--and there are many--involve watching a young woman figure out that she's ultimately stronger than all of the above. Also that she will continue to have to fight these battles her whole life. That is the reality MsFrisby and those who visit her library also deal with, and naming these things, through literature, ultimately makes all of us stronger (and saner). I've spoken to countless librarians about this book who are jumping up and down excited about it because its books like these that make kids want to read.
MsFisby, I agree with you that the examples above are disturbing (though some are a bit misquoted). That's why the author put them in the book. That's the function of literature: to show a mirror to the world and then to show us the alteratives.
As for my take on this book, I adore it. Its smart and political, but mostly its really, really funny.
Selling schlock and shock Feb 9, 2006
Manstealing For Fat Girls works very hard to be a gritty young-adult book. The author, Michelle Embree, stretches to make the book appealing through a deviant and even dysfunctional flair, and can't seem to help but cram the grit in to surplus and inessential levels. I'm hard pressed to find a page that doesn't contain cursing, drug talk, or teenage sex. It apparently works on the premise that this unsoftened, graphic portrayal can better transfer an unyielding commentary on the lifestyle of the characters, but when you pack the grit on to such gratuitous levels, it ends up reading like the book's trying to sell itself with schlock and shock.
At best, this overzealous literary technique makes the lessons in the book oblique. At worst, it makes the book's character portrayal seem hollow and artificial. Myself, I'd like to comment on the biggest issues I had with the themes and characters. Angie, the main character, is sixteen and lives with her mother. Her father left her mother when he found out she was pregnant, and Angie has had to deal with a long string of her mother's boyfriends. The current one, Rudy, has just moved in after announcing that he and Rita, Angie's mom, are going to be getting married. Angie is a definite outsider at her school, and largely moves in the outsider circle of friends. She is the only one in her circle that does not smoke marijuana, although she is offered several times. While this behavior is a decent example of someone sidestepping peer pressure, and the peer pressure is presented far more realistically than seen in many a book containing drug use, she usually turns down these offers solely because she's concerned with her weight and how getting the munchies would affect her weight loss efforts. Angie shows evidence of eating disorders throughout the book: anorexia and bulimia. She avoids eating to the point of getting light-headed and is obsessed with calories. She also forces herself to vomit after an episode of binging following a particularly traumatic event at school. This is a little distressing because it never get addressed in the novel. She is complimented on the weight she has lost. In some ways, it feels like an anorexic's how-to novel at times.
Angie's best friend is Shelby, a lesbian in her class. She gets teased because of Shelby's sexuality, which does not help her already poor self image. Angie really only spends time with Shelby at the beginning of the book. She seems to pick up a number of outsider friends and by the time the story is over, Angie has gathered a much wider circle of friends very quickly. And she needs some of them after she is beaten and sexually abused at school by a jock and his girlfriend in one of the bathrooms before school. Carrie runs in the popular crowd with Mindy, the girl who helps beat Angie. But Carrie has struck up a barely plausible lunchtime friendship with Angie before the bathroom incident and helps her get her revenge on Mindy and her boyfriend. The reaction of friends and family after her beating is a bit frightful, including comments such as "A shiner like that? Some guy callin'? Sounds like a boyfriend to me," from Rudy. Shelby's sister, Robyn, replies to Angie after being told the bruise is a long story, "Always is when someone knocks you around." Such a blasé attitude towards relationship violence is painful and these reactions are paired with a strong sense of either a lack of concern or cluelessness on the part of adults who should notice. Her mom fails to notice that Angie is skipping school nearly every day before the bathroom incident and it escalates into full-scale drop-out mode afterwards. Rudy is written very clearly and realistically, a perfect portrait of a dysfunctional character who is not all bad and who does not completely reform through the course of the book. Rita, Angie's mother, just does not seem to be written with the same intensity, and she tends to fade into the woodwork. Whether this is an intentional ploy of the author to show her wishy-washy character in the face of emotional abuse from Rudy or not, Rita could be written much more memorably. The same could be said for a great number of Angie's other friends. Some have memorable characteristics, such as Pike, a dropout who enjoys sketching people, but seems to have no family. Inez also has some memorable characteristics, such as yelling into payphones outrageous conversations in order to unnerve passers-by. But by and large, the side characters are largely forgettable. The characters are not written in a stereotypical good or bad dichotomy; almost all of them have negative characteristics as well as some redeeming quality, including the main character. The only truly one-dimensionally written characters are Mindy and her boyfriend, Troy. Overall, while there are definitely aspects that shine, the book is a disappointment.