[AD – Gifted. I received a free advance reader copy of this at NYA to review. All opinions are my own and have not been affected by this.]
No Big Deal By Bethany Rutter
Format: ARC copy – Paperback
Publisher: Macmillian Children’s Books
Release Date: 8th August 2019
Meet Emily Daly, a stylish, cute, intelligent and hilarious seventeen-year-old about to start her last year at school. Emily is also fat. She likes herself and her body. When she meets Joe at a house party, he instantly becomes The Crush of Her Life. Everything changes. At first, he seems perfect. But as they spend more time together, doubts start to creep in.
With her mum trying new fad diets every week and increasing pressure to change, Emily faces a constant battle to stay strong, be her true self and not change for anyone.
Going into No Big Deal I didn’t really know what to expect as I decided to go in reading it blindly. All that I knew about it was a body-positive, warm and funny read – this is what I saw from nearly everyone talking about it since I picked up a copy myself at NYA in March and I am so glad that I did! Although, I’m a little disappointed that it took me so long to actually pick up because this book would have been a great way to escape from all the chaos of the past few months.
Upon entering the book we are introduced to Emily who is possibly one of my favourite YA characters – she is fierce, self-assured, confident and at the same time holds the hilarious awkwardness that teenagers have. Emily was a character that I admired greatly, I often found myself thinking if I had had half the confidence in myself that Emily does when I was her age then I would have had a much better time.
Throughout the novel we follow Emily, we see how she interacts with her family, friends and as she experiences her first-time romance. This book was super fast-paced with a good amount of plot-driven and character-driven aspects which meant that for me I found myself getting invested in Emily and her story very quick! I spent two evenings reading this and in all honesty, if I could have read it all in a single sitting then I most likely would have!
I loved how supportive Emily’s friendship was with her, especially when her friendship with Camilla began to change. Female friendships are so important especially when you’re a teen approaching the end of your teen years so I really thought this was lovely to feature in the novel.
I also enjoyed how Emily interacted with her family and how each relationship she has with her parents, aunt and sister are presented. As a reader, I love it when stories have their protagonist still engage with their family and particularly in YA and children’s literature were sometimes it’s just easier for the sake of plot to brush the parents aside. Despite her mother’s fads for diets and perhaps toxic attitude because of them, Emily is still able to have a good relationship with her Mum as we see during their late-night movie sessions. But also seeing how Emily interacts with her Dad, Aunt and Sister was really lovely and something I thoroughly enjoyed and added another layer to the novel and plot.
Finally, I would like to comment on the novel’s overall message surround body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin. In a world where we are constantly being pressured and ridiculed to act, dress and look a certain way, I loved that Emily was confident enough to say no. She refuses to change herself just so she can fit in more with society’s ideals at what people’s bodies should be like and instead focuses on herself. There is a lovely section near the start were Emily emphasis’ that despite her size that she can still be fashionable and wear what she likes.
‘It’s not my body that’s holding me back. I think it’s more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.’
As someone who spent most her teen years being really uncomfortable in her skin, I feel like if I had this book years ago then I would have perhaps begun accepting myself a lot more and sooner. I loved meeting Emily and I am really eager to see what Bethany Rutter writes next!
Have you read No Big Deal? What were your thoughts? Or are you going to pick up a copy?