Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway: Little Big Love

By Jami Deise

Even while the body-positivity campaign has gained traction, overweight and obese people are one of the few groups left that everyone feels free to shame and discriminate against. Although in the developed world, heavier people outnumber appropriately sized folks by nearly a third, they are still blamed for being lazy, undisciplined, unkept. Fashion designers won’t create for them. Employers freely discriminate against them. And yet, more and more research shows that folks with a higher body weight than recommended have multiple decks stacked against them, when it comes to stress hormones, gut bacteria, and even viruses that wring every calorie out of every bite taken. That old advice about just eating less and exercising more is outdated and nearly worthless.

U.K. author Katy Regan’s U.S. debut, Little Big Love, shows how emotional upheaval and the stress of poverty can contribute to weight issues. Two of its three first-person protagonists are overweight, the third is an alcoholic in recovery. Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson wants nothing more than for his father to attend his 11th birthday party. But that’s difficult, as the man took off before he was born. At least that’s what Zac’s mother, 30-year-old Juliet, has always told him. But Juliet has her secrets, as does Juliet’s father, Mick. And Zac’s quest to find his father might reveal these secrets and shatter everyone’s world once and for all.

With her plans for the future derailed by early pregnancy, Juliet and Zac live on an estate (public housing) in the small English fishing village where she grew up and where her parents still reside. She has a job in a sandwich shop that pays her in cash because otherwise she’d lose her benefits; she doesn’t have a car. The one bright spot in Juliet’s life is her overwhelming love for Zac; a love so enormous she can’t see that her son is struggling with his own weight issues until Zac’s school lets her know he’s being bullied for it.

While Zac’s search for his father provides the backbone of the novel, I was more drawn in by the specificity of the voices of the three main characters, especially Zac’s, which always seems like a 10-year-old boy’s. Without ever judging her characters, Regan describes how the stress of poverty, bullying, and secrets can lead to comfort eating and weight gain. The supporting cast, such as Zac’s best friend Teagan and Juliet’s mother, are also specific and real.

If I had one criticism, it was that the book felt overly long. With three protagonists and the dual narrative of Zac and Juliet’s weight issues along with Zac’s search for his father, the pacing never drags, but there were times I wanted more action. And with its contemporary setting, it shouldn’t take that long to find a man with a distinctive name. Another relative is found on Facebook; no one ever does a Google search for Zac’s father.

Still, it’s the character work that will hook readers, and it’s the character work that will result in tears by the end of the book. Katy Regan’s U.S. debut will have readers looking up her U.K. offerings.

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy to give away!


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Giveaway ends June 18th at midnight EST.

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11 comments:

Lori Frazier said...

Just reading the chick lit review makes me want to read this novel. It sounds like a lot of difficult issues are addressed and I will definitely be hunting down this book for summer reading.

traveler said...

I have encountered many larger than life medical issues but remained strong enough to overcome the difficulties even though I have chronic problems.

Mary Preston said...

Having children is monumental.

Janine said...

I honestly can't think of an answer to today's question. But the book sounds good and I appreciate the recommendation and giveaway.

Kate Vocke said...

I help run a nonprofit with a dear friend who has a little boy with a rare medical condition. There is always something bigger than yourself. And it's humbling to be a part of.

Dianne Casey said...

Watching my friend's 11 year old daughter battle bone cancer. She bravely endured surgery and chemo, but sadly passed away two years later.

Sherry said...

My sin is what I experience bigger than me. Every day since I found out I was pregnant my son has and always will be an experience greater than me.

Bonnie K. said...

Bigger than myself? I have had medical problems from the time I was born and have overcome many of them. I still deal with being hearing-impaired and people's reactions to how I respond or don't respond. I currently have arthritis and psoriasis. My family means a lot to me and having them does make a big difference to me. Losing myself in books does help with relieving stress. I look for the beautiful and heartfelt things in life.

RD said...

A time when I visited the 9/11 site a while after it occurred and it took my breath away at the mere site of the devastation of it all.

bn100 said...

monument

Book Blogging Mom said...

The birth of my daughter and her care in NICU.