One of my favorite parts of my day is having lunch in the school library. Not only do I get to catch up with one of my closest friends, who happens to be the librarian, but I get to be surrounded by hundreds of wonderful stories. I love that I can take first dibs on checking out all of the new books. My friend has been working really hard this year to diversify our shelves. Stories about people of every race, gender identity, size, personality, and life perspective are starting to fit our shelves, challenging our students to think about the world outside of our own community. I am here for it!
This past week, a new book caught my eye. There’s Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon, features a beautiful, curvy girl on the cover. I read the inside of the jacket and knew this is the next book I should read. Hooray for body positivity on the school bookshelf!
There’s Something About Sweetie is an adorably charming YA Romance. Sweetie Nair is an Indian American high school track star. She has wonderful friends, a kind heart, a beautiful singing voice, and a promising future as a college athlete. The problem? Sweetie is fat. Her mother firmly believes that the whole world will laugh at Sweetie, and knows that her real life can’t begin until she is thin.
However, Sweetie doesn’t see herself that way. She knows that she has something to offer the world and that she has value, not in spite of her size, but because of it. She determines to start the Sassy Sweetie project, where she proves to her mom, and the rest of the world, that she is amazing just the way she is.
Without giving too much away… Sweetie meets the attractive and talented Ashish Patel, who believes that Sweetie is beautiful and wonderful too. Their love story is charming and adorable and gives fat girls a reason to believe that people exist who appreciate their beauty right now.
I enjoy having my eyes opened to perspectives and ways of thinking that are different than my own while reading. This book gave me insight into Indian American culture and familial relationships. Though there are many differences, there are also pieces of things that are very much the same. So many of the emotional struggles Sweetie has with herself and the good intentions of those who love her echo my own experiences as a teenager.
Sweetie works hard throughout the book to unlearn the damaging messages and internalized fat phobia she carries around inside her. She makes difficult and empowered decisions that help her stand up for herself. She learns that the belief that you are beautiful and powerful absolutely makes it true. By the end of the book she is able to say with confidence, “I have it all, and I have it as a fat girl. I’m not afraid to love my life as I am right now. I don’t need to change. I’m not afraid, so why are you?”
Sweetie is the body-positive role model young readers need. I absolutely adored this love story… not just between Sweetie and Ashish, but between Sweetie and her mother. Most of all, I adored the love story with Sweetie and herself!