Fattie Book Review: Sparks

Book: Sparks by S.J. Adams

Rating: ♦♦♦◊◊

Synopsis Snippet: Since sixth grade, Debbie Woodlawn has nursed a secret, heart-searing crush for her best friend, Lisa. Side by side, they watched countless 80s sit-coms and took vows of premarital chastity. But Debbie’s never really been a fan of Full House or abstinence rallies, and all those years of pretending go down the drain when Lisa hooks up with the most boring guy at school. This earth-shattering event provokes Debbie to do the unthinkable: confess her love to Lisa.

The Cast: This is about a girl’s loving all-consuming crush on her female best friend.  So there is a good run of sexual diversity in having a rather interesting gay female protagonist.  Emma is also a recovering Eating Disordered girl so there is some (mostly hopeful and positive) Fatty representation as well.

Romance Aspects: This is about love, crushes, faith and romance.  There isn’t much sexual going on but lots of first kisses and casual mention of simple sexual concepts.

Language: The writing was a simple and a bit juvenile in places; certainly when it was bringing up episodes of Full House and other 80’s retro imagery.

Fat treatment: A rather nice side-plot features the love “triangle” with one corner held up by the rather charming and usually independently confident Emma.  I don’t want to spoil the plot “twists” but will say that I was happily surprised by how the plot-lette went.

Review: This was cute. Debbie has a serious crush on her best friend Lisa. After 5 years of crushing and watching Full House episodes and attending Christian meetings with Lisa in the hopes that something would develop; Debbie decides to become “reborn” into the pretend religion of “Blueism” offered up by classmates Emma and Tim.  She plans to declare herself and her intentions, but is running out of time because Lisa has a date with Nathan tonight and has declared that she thinks he is “the one”.

Rather like a mini road-trip book which takes place in the span of one wild evening ride around Des Moines, Iowa. Debbie takes on the Holy Quest to declare her love and in the process finds out a bit about herself, faith and love.

There are lots of references to the old show Full House in there and older bands which really ring familiar to me reading it in my 30’s so I’m not sure how relevant it would be to a younger crowd (to whom the writing feels aimed) but it was still a cute and fun read..

Great Quotes: Some awesome tidbits that might get your curiosity going.

“I really hate it when people make fun of you for stupid questions, but don’t answer them. Like, when I was eight or nine I asked my dad if there were tarantulas in Iowa. he snickered and said, “Oh, yeah, they’re the size of lawn mowers. We get them all the time. Your cousin Tyler was eaten by one.” He made me feel stupid for asking, and I still didn’t know if I should be on the lookout for tarantulas.”

“I’m just glad she made up a religion like Bluedaism,” he went on. “Not one of those ones where you pray to the Goddess of Bulimia to keep you from eating.” “People do that?” He inhaled and nodded. “It’s fucking scary. She was never half as bad as some of those girls, really, but she could have easily gotten sucked into that crap.” “But instead you guys made up a religion that keeps her healthy and productive and awesome.” He smiled. “There’s no one else like her.”

“Eat!” Tim said to her. “Bluddha commands you to eat a cheeseburger.”

“She just verbally fucked the entire metro area,” said Emma. “It was pretty awesome.”

“The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like everyone in the world was a total weirdo. No one was normal, really. Maybe not even my dad.”

Final Verdict: It all happens in the span of one night and wraps up pretty much like the old sitcoms Debbie grew up on.  But it was a simple and fast read with a rather positive Fatty side-plot that I was really overjoyed to see after so many YA books which focus on Self-Improvement (aka Weight Loss) Leads to All Good Things. This won’t be something I’ll be discussing as a life-changing book but I loved its overall positivity, bit of diversity and ideas on exploring faith.

So, have you read this yet?  Would you now want to? Would you suggest it to someone else?

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