Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the field nomination form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.

Cover Art

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado
Holiday House
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
ISBN: 978-0823447176 

Meet Charlie Vega, half Puerto Rican in a white Connecticut town, proudly body-positive (or trying to be) despite her mother’s fat-shaming, and never been kissed. Charlie is best known as the best friend of Amelia, who is intelligent, beautiful, and all-around amazing in every way. When a cute coworker takes an interest in her, Charlie might finally be seen for herself instead of the fat girl standing in Amelia’s perfect shadow. But Charlie has been comparing herself to her BFF for years, and old habits die hard. Can Charlie throw off mistrust and self-doubt and learn to love herself first?

Stories about Brown girls and stories about fat girls are still in short supply–and a story about a girl who is both is even rarer. What makes Fat Chance, Charlie Vega even more of a unicorn is its relatable portrayal of the intricacies of teen friendship and its authentic exploration of self-love. Charlie and Amelia have a friendship that feels lived-in and recognizable, especially to teen girls who’ve been friends since middle school. Charlie’s romance hits familiar rom-com beats, but the characters are so charming that readers won’t mind a bit. Charlie herself is the real attraction: self-aware but still prone to self-doubt, wanting to be her best self without quite knowing how to do that, searching for her place in the world. Charlie is half-Puerto Rican, Amelia is Black and bisexual, and love interest Brian is Korean American. 

Charlie will be instant best friends with other body-positive teens struggling with shifting relationships like Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, Puddin’, and Pumpkin, Becky Albertalli’s Leah On the Offbeat, Skye from Lyle Lee’s I’ll Be the One, Felipe from Vitor Martins’ Here the Whole Time, and Nala from Renée Watson’s Love Is a Revolution

Kali Olson

Other Nominated Titles 

  • The Way Back by Gavriel Savit (November 17, 2020)
  • Love is a Revolution by Renée Watson (February 2, 2021)

Want to suggest a title? Access the nomination form to read more about the requirements.