It’s hard not to notice the fact that a lot of characters within the novels that we read possess the ideal stereotypically perfect body type. Not only in terms of female characters, but male characters also. Although there’s nothing wrong with being ideally beautiful, there also many different kinds of beautiful. No one is perfect and I think that this truth needs to be expressed more often in the world of fiction. The topic of Body Positivity, especially within young adult novels is so important. Why is it so difficult to find books in which the main characters have flaws, like normal human beings? Better yet, why is it so difficult to find characters who are okay with their flaws and embrace them?
I personally have had trouble in finding characters that have the same flaws as myself. You can’t tell through pictures, or underneath the make-up that I usually wear, but my skin in not the greatest. I’ve dealt with acne for a long time, and while it has gotten better, it hasn’t completely disappeared and I have been left with a lot of scars and redness. While I haven’t read about a character with the same issues as myself just yet, I’m sure they exist and I have just yet to find them.
With the release of The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle, a new young adult novel that deals with the topic of body positivity, I have decided to highlight three novels that I want to read that deal with main characters who break the mold of the stereotypically beautiful as well as three novels that I have already read that deal with the same subject matter that I would highly recommend!
I hope that through this blog post, readers will be able to find at least one book with a character that they can relate to. I hope that books in the future will contain more characters with flaws, but more importantly, characters that embrace them.
On top of The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle, I would love to read these three novels in the near future that deal with characters who either don’t fit beauty stereotypes or who are accepting of their flaws.
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
This One Summer
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.
I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse. August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.
If you are on the lookout for a few novels that deal with characters who don’t fit into beauty norms, here are a few that I can recommend to you!
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
Eleanor & Park
Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor. Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park. Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
Ready Player One
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
More about The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle
Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp. She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program. Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung. But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.
Book Title: The Sound of Us | Author: Julie Hammerle | Release Date: 6/7/2016 | Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads Book Link | Amazon Buy Link | Barnes & Noble Buy Link | iBooks Buy Link | Kobo Buy Link | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Entangled Publishing
More about author Julie Hammerle
Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her music playlist reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.
Author Website | Author Twitter | Author Facebook | Author Goodreads | Author Newsletter: Sign up @ https://juliehammerle.com/
- A paperback copy of The Sound of Us by debut author Julie Hammerle
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10 thoughts on “Body Positive Books & Why They Are Important.”
Love this post! I hate how practically every character in every YA book these days is physically flawless! I’ll put someof these on my TBR!
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I’m glad you liked it! I agree with you, it’s slightly frustrating… I’m glad you found new books for your TBR!
Thanks so much for participating, Maria. I really love your post, and one of things that you mentioned – that not only female characters, but male characters in YA are also typically attractive – makes me hope that you appreciate The Sound of Us even more. We did a Swoon Sunday featuring Kiki’s male love interest recently in which he describes himself this way: “Picture the hottest golfer you’ve ever seen. Now keep the clothes, but add glasses and a premature dad bod. That’s me. What? I’ve been told dad bods are sexy.” I think it’s safe to say that dad bods aren’t stereotypically attractive, but I think it’s great that Kiki seems him as great
You can read the whole post here in case you’re interested: http://www.entangledteen.com/swoon-sunday-jack-murphy-from-the-sound-of-us-by-julie-hammerle/
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No problem at all! Thank you so much! I definitely think it’s important to note that male characters are also stereotypically attractive. I love that little excerpt!
Great Post Maria, I haven’t actually read any of these books and I definitely want to check them out. You are so right, a-lot of books do have the same character type and little focus on body positivity for the characters with ‘flaws’, it similar to books about Mental Illness. There are becoming more books out their its just a case of getting them well known so they can spread their positive image.
This isn’t a book focused on body image but I read Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover which is a New Adult Romance which has a protagonist who is deaf. That was a very unique character type for me and it was really interesting to see the plot embrace such an issue. Have you read it? I’m sorry I went a little bit off topic, your topic reminded me of it as it embraces something that isn’t commonly seen in literature as a whole really.
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Thank you so much!! I’m glad you discovered some new books to read via this post! I agree with your comment about Mental Illness related books, there are definitely quite a few being released lately and I’m so glad for it! Books like these definitely deserve more recognition! I have heard of Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover but I have yet to read it! I didn’t know it featured a deaf character, I think I really want to read it soon! Thank you so much for bringing that detail to my attention!!
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I apologize if I gave you a spoiler there! It really is a unique read in more ways than one so I hope you like it if you do pick it up 🙂 I think it’s so important for authors to feature different body types and body positivity because young people are really impressionable and were already surrounded by the media images of what is perfection, showing that there isn’t such a thing as perfection just happiness you have within your self is a really important message. Your post itself is also wonderful and important for spreading the message and introducing such books to people, you could really change someone’s outlook on life and themselves by having posts like this 🙂 It is wonderful!
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Thank you so much! That means a lot to me!! ❤ 🙂
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