Book Review: Fat Girl on a Plane
DeVos, Kelly. Fat Girl on a Plane. Harlequin Teen, 2018.
As a plus size adult, I am fortunate to have access to fashionable clothing both in brick and mortar stores and online. However, I can recall being a teenager and feeling as though I had very limited options. Many of my peers wore super small Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts that just weren’t available to me. This idea of fashion accessibility is just one theme explored in Kelly DeVos’ debut YA novel, Fat Girl on a Plane.
The novel is split between two timelines—in the first, readers meet protagonist Cookie Vonn before a significant weight loss. A fashion blogger and aspiring designer, Cookie is excited to be heading to New York to conduct an interview. Unfortunately, before boarding the plane carrying her to New York, Cookie is informed that her size requires her to purchase an additional seat. This prefaces a series of misfortunes. Cookie must also decide where she wants to attend college, sort out her feelings for her best friend, and navigate life without the assistance of her negligent parents—a supermodel mother and a world traveling father.
In the second timeline, Cookie has lost well over a hundred pounds thanks to the assistance of a program called NutriNation. Despite no longer being plus size, Cookie is the creator of a prominent plus size clothing blog. The popularity of her blog secures Cookie an interview with renowned designer Gareth Miller. When Miller enlists her help creating a plus size capsule collection, Cookie must make a number of decisions. Will she stay with Miller in New York or return to her family and schooling in Arizona? Will she begin a romantic relationship with the famed fashion designer or does she still have feelings for her former best friend?
One unique facet of Fat Girl on a Plane is its overall message. When you’re overweight, it’s easy to blame your misfortunes on your size—if I were skinnier, I would be more confident. If I were skinnier, I would have a better job. A boyfriend. More friends. In fact, I would be willing to wager that most everyone has a physical attribute that they believe hinders their success. Because of the dual timelines, it becomes clear to the reader that weight loss doesn’t necessarily give Cookie the peaceful life she’s always dreamed of. In fact, things seem to become even more complicated. I can’t think of any other books—YA or otherwise—that have touched on such a simple but important concept. Also, the book is laced with great moments humor. I especially chuckled at the descriptions of the NutriNation meetings which were clearly modeled after Weight Watchers. Cookie, too, has a quick wit and dry sense of humor. And, as a new Arizona resident, I loved the specific mentions of roads, restaurants, and regional plants.
If you’re not well versed in high fashion—like me—some parts of the book might feel a bit like a barrage of unfamiliar information. Also, a revelation is made regarding Cookie’s mother that was never touched on again; I craved some more commentary or closure with that particular issue. Overall, though, this was a great read. I am looking forward to more YA novels from DeVos.