I am always on the quest to find the perfect Plus Positive novel. Sometimes it’s just nice to find people like me between the pages of my books… people who do great things, fall in love, and are unbothered by stigma that is attached to being in a bigger body. I want to see the characters in my books shatter conventional beliefs about what fat people can do. You know, like it’s awesome when the characters can just be people living in a space where size doesn’t play significant role in their being.
Over Spring Break, I found one of those perfect Plus Positive books. It’s a sweet YA beach read called, The Summer of Jordi Perez (And The Best Burger In Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding. (Bonus, the author grew up in St. Louis and went to Wash U, so it’s like supporting a local author!)
This book is a love story, told by Abby, a 17 year old Plus Size influencer. For years she has played the role of the “fat best friend” in her girl gang, watching her friends fall in love from the sidelines. That role doesn’t seem to bother Abby all that much. She is able to pour her time and energy into her successful blog and Instagram presence. Abby exudes an effervescent positive energy that makes her very easy to connect with. She represents all that is great about the Plus Positive community as a passionate and confident human being.
Abby is selected for an internship at her favorite retro-fab LA boutique, setting her up for a future in the fashion industry. When she arrives, she finds out that she actually has to share the internship… something she definitely didn’t expect. Not only that, but, she is told that only one of them will be selected for a full time job at the end of the summer.
Her fellow intern is a creative, and talented photographer named Jordi. She is dark, artsy, and beautiful, and Abby quickly falls for her. What starts as a friendly, competitive friendship between the girls turns into a sweet first romance. Through her camera lens, Jordi is able to capture all that is beautiful and perfect in Abby… and it’s completely unsettling to her. Abby spends much of the summer wrestling with who she believes she is, and who others see her to be.
The book paints a really wonderful picture of the evolution of both Abby and Jordi as they navigate who they are to themselves and to each other. I love the ways they both work through friendships, family dynamics, their internship, and their relationship to both be confident, well adjusted teenagers in the end. This story is just plain joyful. It reminds us that it’s possible to just “be” and be loved and accepted exactly as we are.