Entrancingly eccentric prose, a protagonist “jam-packed with awkward” and a military sister missing in action coalesce into a memorable romance that’s rockier than might be expected—and more realistic.
Fat Angie’s sister, “the fulcrum of their family machine,” was captured nine months ago and shown “on Iraqi television, tied to a chair, blindfolded and bruised.” Family, national news and everyone in Dryfalls, Ohio, presume she’s dead—except Fat Angie. After a very public meltdown, Fat Angie faces bullying at school and “all kinds of weird sadness” at home, including maternal comments like “No one is ever going to love you if you stay fat.” Into this anguish materializes KC Romance, a slang-talking new girl in combat boots and skull-and-crossbones fishnets. She defends Fat Angie; she likes Fat Angie; she calls her, simply, Angie. Angie falls “heart-forward into KC’s dark eyes,” and the girls are “gay-girl gay” together (their affectionate term). But Angie’s tongue-tied, and KC has secret pain; a “sad awkward” keeps cropping up. Like their relationship, and like Angie’s lionhearted attempt to emulate her missing sister’s backbone on the basketball court, Charlton-Trujillo’s prose has a peppery flavor, pointedly carbonated (“You break it. You know? My heart”) and wryly funny. Unfortunately, fatness is a misery symbol—it’s post–weight-loss, “not-so-plump Angie” who finds happiness.
Creative prose and sharp interactions, marred only by some stereotyping; a fresh read nevertheless. (Fiction. 12-16)