August 17, 2010
By Veronica Chambers
Available now from Razorbill
I hope this is the right cover for PLUS; I've seen at least three making the internet rounds. Honestly, I don't like any of the three. They're either head shots or this foot shot. Let's see an awesome plus-sized model on the cover. (It's not like they'd have to put an actual plus-sized girl since plus-sized model means something like an 8-12 dress size. This is well-pointed out in the novel when the girls complain about their weight.)
I am amazed by how timely PLUS is. Veronica Chambers, a former magazine editor, probably has some insider know-how, but plus-sized models are having a moment right now. Crystal Renn walked for Chanel Resort despite Karl Lagerfeld's usual opinions about 'fat.' She also has the power to speak up about images of her being retouched to look skinnier. The 'trend' of high profile jobs for plus-sized models is here, though some predict it will end soon. Bee's Cinderella story is more plausible than ever.
Fortunately, PLUS doesn't fall for fashion's trend of not hiring people of color. Love interests, friends, and coworkers are populated by a variety of races without much comment. Yet while that issue is handled subtly, some may be put off by the heavy-handedness of PLUS's message.
Beatrice "Bee" Wilson begins the novel in a truly horrid relationship, though she can't see that because it's her first college, grown-up relationship and she quite likes Brian. When he dumps her, she gains weight and then gains a job - as a plus-sized supermodel. Yet despite being told she's lovely, Bee just can't believe she's model quality. She thinks of herself as the dowdy, smart fat girl.
Luckily, she's about to come into contact with a bunch of great people who can teach her how wonderful she is and help her learn to like herself, including her appearance. Chela, Brian's ex, is an unexpected friend who sticks by Bee even when Bee doesn't deserve it. Kevin, her tutoring client and prospective rap star, is ready to sweep her off her feet if she'll let him. Kevin and Bee had great chemistry, but he did frequently drop out of the narrative. I wish there had been a bit more about their relationship.
Unluckily, she's about to come into contact with some scum too. While most of her coworkers are fabulous, some are vindictive. Some are out to humiliate Bee. Some really should've faced police charges. But the book never dwells on the dark points long. PLUS may be an issue/message book, but it delivers it's message with froth and humor.
PLUS and Veronica Chambers aren't new loves. But PLUS is inarguably fun and a perfect book to help ease the transition from summer to school. Plus, as much as I love Violet and Nikki, models in YA could use a little body diversity.