Big Fat Disaster, by Beth Fehlbaum

Premise: Colby's two sisters take after their mother, a former Miss Texas. Colby takes after their father, former linebacker for the UT Longhorns and aspiring US Senator. While Colby already does a pretty great job of comparing herself to her mother and sisters—and always, always coming up short—her mother and sisters never miss an opportunity to needle, nag, or flat-out abuse her about her weight.

Then, Colby's father is not only caught stealing campaign funds, but having an affair... neither of which does wonders for his campaign, which is based around a family values platform.

Over the course of a few days, Colby goes from living in a large house in an affluent neighborhood to a broken-down trailer in a tiny, one-horse town. A broken-down trailer that belongs to her aunt, the black sheep in the family.


  • The depiction of the small-town power structure.
  • The contrast between Colby's life BEFORE and AFTER—the descriptions of the physical settings are especially strong, and those vivid differences make the constancy of her mother's abusive behavior that much more appallingly clear.
  • Colby's voice, which seamlessly veers from self-loathing to furious to affectionate to longing, and sometimes incorporates all of those at once.
  • The fact that the storyline isn't 'Girl Loses Weight And Her Problems Disappear' or 'Girl Loses Weight And Suddenly Finds Love'...


  • ...but it is a story about a girl who hates herself because of her weight (not entirely because of that, but due to her family's constant abuse, she's very much internalized the Fat = Root of All Misery message), and that is a storyline that I, personally, could maybe do without for a while. Yes, it certainly is a reality for many, but maybe we could throw some stories about Confident, Emotionally Healthy Fat Girls Who Enjoy Life And Love into the mix? 
  • Colby's mother, her older sister, her grandparents, her father... while I have no doubt that there are people who are that awful in the real world, in a book, they come off as two-dimensional villains, especially when contrasted with Colby's aunt, who comes off as saint-like.
  • The pacing is rough, in that the first 9/10s of the book are about Colby's downward spiral... and then BAM! everything—to a Afterschool Special Ridiculous degree—gets resolved in the last, like, six pages.
  • ETA: Verbal and emotional abuse, binge eating, suicidal thoughts, accidental death, a Steubenville-like sexual assault (that took place before the book), family breakdown, physical abuse, terrible advice... IT WAS JUST A LOT OF TRAUMA IN 300 PAGES. 

Nutshell: My feelings were REALLY colored by personal preference, so if it sounds like it'll be a better fit for you, BY ALL MEANS, PICK IT UP.

Book source: Finished copy from the publisher.