The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

Charlie Grisner is an ex-fat kid with a complicated story, and the universe is never on his side. When he returns home from fat camp at the end of the summer, he finds that his mother has run away—again. His father won’t discuss it and Charlie begins another school year with bottled guilt. Though he has lost thirty pounds, Charlie still perceives himself as fat. But when he spots the new girl, Charlotte Van- derkleaton, no longer is his goal to just get through his senior year unnoticed. Perhaps he can at least pretend to be smooth so she will notice him (in a good way).

While dealing with the constant battles of keeping the weight off, staying clear of the fanatical school pariah he shares a locker with, his beyond-dysfunctional parents, and getting the girl, Charlie can at least count on photography (the one thing he knows he’s good at) and his best friend Ahmed (a Sammy Davis Jr.-obsessed, wing tip shoes– wearing “player”). However, when his life really reaches a tipping point, Charlie can only hope that things will go his way just once.

What a great contemporary! The Downside of Being Charlie was funny, but unlike several funny contemporaries, it had a heavier edge to it– it had a brilliant emotional depth. I really enjoyed the fact that this was from a guy's POV. You rarely do get books, contemporaries nonetheless, which feature a guy as the main character (other than John Green's books). The plot was powerful, you could really see the characters develop from start to finish, because my opinions definitely changed throughout the course of the story.

Charlie is a powerful lead. You could see his struggle with everything going on in his life: the fact his mom's missing again, struggling to maintain his new weight after coming back from Fat Camp, sharing a locker with Tanya the freak feminist, and getting the attention of the new hot girl. I found it really easy to connect and empathize with Charlie... maybe that has to do with the fact that the author is a woman, and therefore being a girl I could relate to it? Possibly, possibly.
Oh Ahmed! I've never seen anyone in young adult books like him. He reminds me so much of Hasan from An Abundance of Katherines. They're both originally from the same part of the world, they're both hilarious and have something quirky about them, and they're always there to support their best friend. Ahmed is absolutely obsessed with Sinatra and the lingo from that time, and overall he's just an amazing character to read about.
Charlotte was one character that I did not like. I have a theory in sense that girls tend to know which guys and girls are not worth it, but guys only know which guys are not worth it. Thus being my theory, I hated Charlotte, even through the eyes of Charlie, because she just sounded like someone who needs to be popular, surrounded by adoring males... arghh, I'm rambling on, but I just don't like her. I liked her more at the end, but still not past that 'hate' stage.

The little twists in the story are quite heartbreaking and the emotional hardships which Charlie has to go through is really sad. I felt so bad for him! One moment he's all great, and then the next, everything comes crashing down. I really love journey he has through finding himself, finding out what he wants and what he is.

The Downside of Being Charlie is a strong, fabulous, and wonderful debut, which will take you on a roller coaster ride from heartbreaks to giggles. I'm so glad I got the chance to read and review this book– it was the perfect book to just get away from everything and just sink into the story. Definitely looking forward to reading more from this author!

○ ○ ○ Thank you to Seta Zink from Running Press for sending me The Downside of Being Charlie for review! ○ ○ ○

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1 comment:

  1. Ooo, a boy contemporary?! Awesome! And we're super glad to hear that it's a good read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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