no big deal review

No Big Deal‘ by Bethany Rutter was one of my most anticipated novels of the year. I’ve followed Bethany on Twitter for quite a while now, and I’ve listened to her podcast. I’ve always been impressed by her commitment to fat activism, especially in regards to women’s fashion. So, when I heard that she was writing a YA novel, I was so excited!!

‘It’s not my body that’s holding me back. I think it’s more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.’

Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.

With her mum trying new fad diets every week, and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.

A warm, funny inspiring debut YA novel from Bethany Rutter: influencer, editor and a fierce UK voice in the debate around body positivity.

Trigger warnings: fatphobia

I’m very happy to say that I loved this book. Right from the first chapter, when our protagonist Emily gets stuck in a too-small dress from Topshop, I felt so represented. In this book, more than any other, I really felt like my experiences as a fat woman were put at the forefront. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that so accurately displays the horrible desperation of being forced into going to a Slimming World-esque programme in the local church hall. Or the way that internalised fatphobia travels through generations and families. Or the way that strangers feel it is their right to police fat women’s bodies.

One of the other great things about this book is that while it does talk about all of these experiences, it isn’t depressing. Quite the opposite, in fact! I loved Emily as a protagonist – she’s so cute and confident! I wish I had been half as confident when I was 17.

It’s not perfect – there are some bits of dialogue that felt a little unrealistic to me, and I felt that the antagonist was at times written a bit heavy-handed. However, I absolutely adored this book nonetheless. It is going to change the lives of SO MANY teenagers. And even at the ripe old age of 23, it kind-of changed my life, too.

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