Manstealing for Fat Girls

Michelle Embree, Author
Michelle Embree, Author . Soft Skull $13 (256p) ISBN 978-1-933368-02-3
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Angie Neuweather, 16, has it rough: she's fat and sort of slobby; her mom's horrible fiancé has just moved into their low-rent apartment; and she's constantly being tortured at school (the kids call her "Lezzylard"). Spunky girlfriends help Angie weather sophomore year, including Shelby, a spiky-haired, out-of-the-closet lesbian, and Heather, who has just one giant breast. Angie's a little sexually confused herself: she's sort of got a crush on Carrie, an anorexic popular girl, but she also enjoys sexual fantasies that involve penetration by a giant hairy monster. The friendship of two boys—stoner Pike and perky Mantis—motivates her to go on a severe diet, experiment with drugs and attend her first beer party (her mom's so strict that Angie isn't even allowed to wear concealer over her zits). Eventually, she discovers that she's pretty, and when a rival calls her a "manstealer," she has an epiphany. As if quotidian existence as a misfit isn't hard enough, Embree adds in a gunrunning subplot and some scenes of real violence. Too many characters muddle the slight plot (though many of them are well drawn), but Embree has crafted a very sharp look at adolescent longing and angst. (Oct.)

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