Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Review: The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Book Description via Goodreads:

ARC, 271 pages
May 22, 2012, Running Press Kids

Charlie is handed a crappy senior year. Despite losing thirty pounds over the summer, he still gets called “Chunks” Grisner. What’s worse, he has to share a locker with the biggest Lord of the Rings freak his school has ever seen. He also can’t figure out whether Charlotte VanderKleaton, the beautiful strawberry lip-glossed new girl, likes him the way he likes her. Oh, and then there’s his mom. She’s disappeared—again—and his dad won’t talk about it.

Somewhere between the madness, Charlie can at least find comfort in his one and only talent that just might get him out of this life-sucking place. But will he be able to hold his head above water in the meantime?

Source: Jenny Torres Sanchez & Kerry Sparks (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Charlie Grisner had just lost a whooping thirty pounds after staying at Fat Camp last summer. He was obese, unconfident and down. He had suffered from the piercing stares, the labeling and the harsh and disgusted whispers. But with his weight loss, came the pressure of maintaining his weight and forgetting about his huge appetite. But it wasn’t easy to do when every healthy low-fat meal felt like a sacrifice and temptations were everywhere. I liked Charlie. He was flawed, with hopes, desires, issues and problems. He dealt with his problems by keeping them all inside. He was depressed and soon, it became apparent that he developed a bad habit to make himself feel better.

Ahmed was Charlie’s Turkish best friend. Hyper, energetic, weird and positive, he was probably one of the most unique characters I’ve ever encountered in YA literature. He was always there for Charlie even though Charlie was used to bottling up everything inside of him. Ahmed was always giving advice, encouraging Charlie and lightening up the mood. He injected humor and eccentricity into the novel.

Charlotte, the girl of Charlie’s dreams, was not easy to figure out. She was nice to him and appeared to like him. But she kept hanging out with Mark, the school dumbass who was fond of pulling pranks and putting Charlie down. As Charlotte and Charlie spent more time together, he started to find out that Charlotte was not who he thought her to be.

But even though Charlie changed physically, deep inside he was still the same. He was still the miserable guy with the miserable family. His mom had a habit of leaving him and his father behind, not bothering to say goodbye, tell them where she was going and when she was going back. Her Dad was always busy with work and was keeping a secret from him and his mom. Just when he thought things were bad, it became worse.

Being in Charlie’s mind was a rollercoaster of suppressed emotions, trapped words and squashed hopes. I winced, ached and worried along with him. The way he saw his world, his home and his life was one of a kind. His reflections were pure and honest.

The Downside of Being Charlie was an honest to goodness contemporary novel. Honest, raw touching and gripping, I was sucked into Charlie’s world. I felt for him and connected with him in a way that I didn’t expect. The photography point of view was also a nice touch. I highly recommend this to contemporary readers!


1 comment:

  1. That's a darn accurate review if ever I've read one. Like you, I loved Ahmed. He brought just the right touch of humor to Charlie's sad situation.

    Jenny really delivered with this book. She could've been preachy and heavy-handed when it came to dealing with tough stuff (and there was plenty of tough stuff to deal with) but instead she met it head-on and approached it how most of us would--if we weren't worried about how the world was going to judge us.