Sorry this is going up a day later than intended (you can thank a case of food poisoning), but this might be my favorite list of all 10! In addition to reading more graphic novels this year, I’ve also been trying to read more body positive titles.
I’ve had body shaming issues my whole life, whether grown from peers and family to media, and this is the first year I’ve really taken confidence in my body. Due to a variety of factors, I will never be thin so I should celebrate the body I have and the things it allows me to do! In my estimation, there isn’t enough GOOD body positive literature but here are 10 I believe are both positive and just downright good!
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
Three Words: heart-warming, mirroring, inclusive
Readalikes: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Summary: Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items?
- Enjoy a drunken night out.
- Ride a motorcycle.
- Go camping.
- Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
- Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
- And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
Three Words: inclusive, inspiring, unputdownable (yes that’s a word)
Readalikes: A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev, The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
Summary: High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.” Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?
Three Words: summery, understanding, inspiring
Readalikes: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (if you haven’t read it already), Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju, The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding, Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Summary: Darius speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.
Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
Three Words: difficult, rare, surprising
Readalikes: Turtles All the Day Down by John Green, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
Summary: Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.
Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.
Three Words: tough, authentic, coming-of-age
Readalikes: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson, There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
Summary: Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.
Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?
Three Words: warm, empowering, adorable
Readalikes: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, Fake It Til You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen, Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Open Earth by Sarah Mirk, Eva Cabrera, & Claudia Aguirre
Summary: Rigo is a young woman of her time: specifically, the time just after the collapse of Earth. After living her whole life on a small space station orbiting the planet, the cultural norms and rules of her Californian parents are just history to her. In between work shifts at the station air farm, Rigo explores her own desires, developing openly polyamorous relationships with her friends and crewmates. When she starts to feel one of those relationships change, however, Rigo must balance her new feelings with the stability of her other relationships, as well as the hard-earned camaraderie of a small crew floating in the vastness of space. But, as the ship motto goes, “Honesty keeps us alive.”
A heartfelt, positive, and erotic look at one woman’s adventure in love and sex, as a new generation learns to make their own rules and follow their own hearts.
Three Words: body-positive, lush, futuristic
Readalikes: Super Sexy Fun Times by Meredith McLaren, Money Shot by Tim Seeley, Sarah Beattie, & Rebekah Isaacs, Kim & Kim by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, & Claudia Aguirre
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Summary: Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster—and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.
Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.
When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.
A story about unexpected friendship, romance, and Texas-size girl power, this is another winner from Julie Murphy.
Three Words: understanding, courageous, sympathetic
Readalikes: The Way Your Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks
Summary: Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.
Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years…
What if their last shift was an adventure?
Three Words: nostalgic, autumnal, heartwarming
Readalikes: Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan, Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau, Check, Please! Book One: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
Summary: Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Pérez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.
Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?
But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?
Three Words: colorful, fun, theatrical
Readalikes: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, Final Draft by Riley Redgate
Read any good body positive/body inclusive books this year? Place them in the comments below!
Until next time…