The summer holidays have pretty much started here in the Netherlands, so what better time to talk about summer contemporaries? In case you’re still looking for books to read during your vacation, I’m sharing 5 recommendations today! And if you’re summer is already fully booked (get it?), these books are of course great to read at any other time of year! There’s just something about reading a book set in summer when the weather is warm and the sun is shining 🙂
Additionally, all 5 of these books have a fat main character. Which is perfect, because I think we can all especially use a little more body positivity and body confidence during the summer.
The Summer of Jordi Perez
Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Pérez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.
Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?
But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve probably seen this recommendation coming from a mile away. But I couldn’t leave this book out, because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Summer of Jordi Perez is literally THE perfect summer contemporary. It has the best main character: a fat lesbian who loves fashion and food, and who falls in love with her coworker during her summer internship.
If It Makes You Happy
High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”
Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?
This book gave me so much Gilmore Girls vibes! It’s set in a small town where the main character, Winnie, spends her summer working in her grandma’s diner. And the rep in If It Makes You Happy is like nothing I’ve ever seen before: the main character is a black, fat, polyamorous queer girl who’s in an established, open QPR (queer-platonic relationship) at the start of the book. I mean… Doesn’t that sound freaking fantastic?
There’s Something About Sweetie
Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.
Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?
Of course we need more books with fat rep & body positivity in general, but we especially need more that discuss the intersectionality between other marginalizations and body image, like There’s Something About Sweetie. Sweetie, the fat Indian main character of this book, is perfectly happy with her body, but has to deal with a lot of bodyshaming and fatphobia from her mother and the Indian community. Sandhya Menon’s books make for perfect summer reads anyway, and if you enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, you’re sure to love this book.
The Upside of Unrequited
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
My favourite Becky Albertalli book is The Upside of Unrequited. Just like Leah on the Offbeat, this book has a fat protagonist, and Molly is one of the most relatable character for me. And there’s LGBTQ+ rep as well, because although Molly herself is straight, she has two mothers, and her sister is gay as well.
The latest teen novel from the sparkling Laura Dockrill, introducing Bluebelle, and her moving, hilarious take on food, body image and how we look after ourselves and others
A heart-warming teen story from the unique voice of Laura Dockrill, about Bluebelle, aka BB, aka Big Bones – a sixteen-year-old girl encouraged to tackle her weight even though she’s perfectly happy, thank you, and getting on with her life and in love with food. Then a tragedy in the family forces BB to find a new relationship with her body and herself. Moving, memorable and hilarious.
Big Bones is probably the first book I read with fat rep that wasn’t depressing to read. BB is a wonderful main character, and this book is all kinds of hilarious. It has been released in the UK for quite some time, but it’s actually being released in the US on July 16th, as My Ideal Boyfriend Is a Croissant. I will admit I prefer the UK cover and title, but I’m so glad to see this book getting more recognition!
Talking about these books really has me wanting to reread all of them! Have you read any of these? Or are they on your TBR?
Great post! I love UOU and I enjoyed JORDI PEREZ for the most part (I had issues with the ending)! And I’m excited to read that last one you recommended, and you’re right, the UK cover is so much better.
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Thank you!! I hope you’ll enjoy Big Bones, it was really funny! I do wish we’d get more of these books without any fatphobia though? Because pretty much all of these feature really fatphobic parents…
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I agree 😦 I’d love more books where the characters are allowed to just be fat. But it seems like you can really only get that in some adult books, when the MC isn’t necessarily around their parents all the time 😦
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