The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What are the downsides to being Charlie? His best (only?) friend is a skinny, ADD Turk obsessed with the Rat Pack, he's 5'10" and weighs 235 (and no, he's not on the football team), and his mother disappears every so often. That's not enough? He's just spent the summer between junior and senior year at a fat camp, a very cute girl has moved in across the street, and he's sharing a locker with the class pariah.
As he goes through the first semester of his senior year he starts to come out of his shell a little, despite things going wrong - very wrong - at home. There's a caring teacher but, in true teen fashion, Charlie doesn't really turn to him for help. His food issues will resonate with any teen dealing with weight problems.
The writing brings Charlie to life is a way that makes him feel real - usually this combination of "downsides" is too much, as though the author is just throwing things in for effect. Here, that's not quite the case. Charlie's love of photography, his crush on (and near inability to speak to) Charlotte, his problems at home, etc. all made sense and don't have that kitchen sink feeling.
ARC provided by publisher.