Body image, college life, and online trolling come to a startling head.
British university student Beth Soames is, in her own words, “fugly.” She balances class work with an unstable home life that includes a depressed mother, a reclusive younger brother, and cupboards that are often bare. To cope, Beth, who is fat, mainlines chocolate bars and uses sockpuppet accounts to relentlessly bully thinner girls from the safety of her own room. Online, she befriends Tori, who is eager to join forces with Beth in making fun of glamorous young women and to woo Beth with sexy pictures and words of love. Meanwhile, beautiful, bubbly classmate Amy pulls Beth into her world of dorm life, pizza parties, and late-night bonding. When Beth and Tori’s trolling results in serious repercussions for a victim Beth knows personally, Beth must ask herself why she consistently bullies women and reveal the secret she’s been keeping. Though the author sometimes resorts to stereotypes (not all fat people binge on candy every night), Beth is otherwise nuanced—intelligent and witty but struggling with her own self-perception as well as that of the outside world—and her queerness is unapologetic and refreshing. The sheer loneliness that drives Beth to almost unspeakable acts is presented in a way that evokes empathy. Major characters are assumed white.
Doesn’t shy away from the dark side of young adulthood and the insecurity that can drive a smart teen to extremes. (Fiction. 14-18)