Cover of The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen. An overweight girl performs a burlesque act

About the Book

Title: The Big Reveal
Published: 2021

Cover Story: All About That Bass
Drinking Buddy: Hells to the Yes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (language, sexuality, crude humor)
Talky Talk: She’s a Lady
Bonus Factors: Burlesque
Bromance Status: I Came for the Show and Stayed…For the Show

Cover Story: All About That Bass

The unashamedly large girl. She’s big and she’s sexy. Kudos to the designer for making her fat, not ‘Hollywood’ fat.

The Deal:

Addie is about to graduate from her fancy performing arts school where she studies dance. And she just won a scholarship to continue her studies in Milan. Well…she was accepted to study in Milan. The money is up to Addie to provide.

With a mother who’s a complete ditz, Addie doesn’t really have any source of cash flow. And that’s when she and her friends come up with a plan, worthy of the most hastily-written 80s sitcom: they’ll put on a burlesque show. And Addie will be right there front and center. All 300 pounds of her.

Drinking Buddy: Hells to the Yes

In previous books about large women, the heroines are a) only about twenty pounds overweight, and b) completely ashamed of that fact. Not our Addie. When a dance instructor told her she was too big for ballet at a child, she became an expert dancer just to prove her wrong. When her ex decided he didn’t want to be seen with a fat chick, Addie makes sure he realizes what he’s missing every time he sees her. And then there’s her smarmy classmate Jack, with his tan, his intellect, and the way she just has to prove herself around him. Not because she’s trying to impress him, but…well, a guy like that can get into your head, you know?

Not that Addie is immune to the insults of a fat-shaming world. She hears the comments. She knows that most people will not find her attractive. But this is one round girl who is not going to be ashamed of herself. And she doesn’t shy away from the word ‘fat’. She’s proud.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (language, sexuality, crude humor)

Now let’s get this straight. Addie and her friends are not stripping. The clothes stay on. As the great Mae West taught us, you have to let people use their imagination.

Still, burlesque is a very sexual type of show, and Addie and her crew are excited to play it up. And if Jack should happen to like what he sees, so be it.

Talky Talk: She’s a Lady…

Addie was certainly the sort of person kids of any gender or weight could aspire to be. Rather than trying to change herself to fit what society expects, she makes the world realize she’s a force to be reckoned with. Her friends were a diverse mixture of outcasts and funny people, and the romance had a nice amount of sizzle.

On the other hand, this was a very problem/solution/resolution book. I never doubted that Addie would be successful, get the boy, and achieve her dreams. While happy endings are to be expected, I never once bit my nails or wept with Addie.

Also, the book had a bad case of Saved by the Bell Syndrome, where all adults are either dullards or deliberately cruel. Addie’s mother only wants to talk about her weight, and asks about when she’ll be going to Paris (not Milan) so often that I wanted Addie to take her to a neurologist. And of course there was Homer Simpson’s crusty school dean who punishes the poor students much harsher than the wealthy ones (which, unfortunately, is probably realistic). Maybe it’s just the teacher in me, but every character in a book should have depth, not just the young ones.

Still, Addie and her friends were a fun group, and when the day is done, they’d be the ones I’d want to hang out with.

Bonus Factor: Burlesque

The burlesque house from The Simpsons

Burlesque, like drag, is a very real, very legitimate type of performance art. In fact Addie and her friends get some tips from drag performers. They never show off their naughty bits, and really, their costumes are no more revealing than what you’d see on the beach. Of course the school authorities won’t see things this way, so it’s best that this is a secret show.

Yeah. The kids start their own underground burlesque club. When I was in high school, we once hit a street sign with a paintball and it it froze and rusted and we bragged about that mark for years until they widened the highway and replaced the sign.

Bromance Status: I Came for the Show and Stayed…For the Show

You had me at burlesque. But I think I’ll stick around and see what else this author can do.

Literary Matchmaking

Dumplin’ (Dumplin’ #1)

Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ features a  plus sized heroine.

Everyone Dies in the End

As does my own Everyone Dies in the End.

The Game of Love and Death

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brokenbrough also features a trendy, underground club.

FTC full disclosure: I received neither money nor a backstage pass for writing this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.