Punk girls, 90s nostalgia, and a coming of age story set against the Riot Grrrl movement? Carrie Pack’s Grrrls on the Side is out now, and is a book you won’t want to miss! Today we have Carrie on the blog to talk about the importance of positive fat representation in fiction, and how Tabitha’s story is one she wishes she had as a teen.
You really won’t want to miss this one! Natalie calls it “a pleasure to read” with “fierce on-page bisexual and lesbian rep” and a nostalgia that still felt “completely relevant to today”. (Her review is here!)
So check it out:
Grrrls on the Side, by Carrie Pack
Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: June 8, 2017
The year is 1994 and alternative is in. But not for alternative girl Tabitha Denton; she hates her life. She is uninterested in boys, lonely, and sidelined by former friends at her suburban high school. When she picks up a zine at a punk concert, she finds an escape—an advertisement for a Riot Grrrl meet-up.
At the meeting, Tabitha finds girls who are more like her and a place to belong. But just as Tabitha is settling in with her new friends and beginning to think she understands herself, eighteen-year-old Jackie Hardwick walks into a meeting and changes her world forever. The out-and-proud Jackie is unlike anyone Tabitha has ever known. As her feelings for Jackie grow, Tabitha begins to learn more about herself and the racial injustices of the punk scene, but to be with Jackie, she must also come to grips with her own privilege and stand up for what’s right.
You can purchase Grrrls on the Side from:
The Importance of Positive Fat Representation
The main character in Grrrls on the Side, Tabitha, is fat. She’s not just chubby. She’s a big girl. And it’s an important part of the story. She’s a girl who relates to the world in a certain way because of her size. She feels as if she doesn’t belong among other, “prettier” girls. She feels invisible and humongous at the same time. She’s wonderful and special but also completely ordinary. She’s a teenage girl. She’s also very important to me.
Writing Grrrls felt very personal. Even though Tabitha’s story barely resembles my high school experience, I can relate to her in many ways. I can remember feeling I wasn’t cool enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough. I remember falling in love and learning to accept myself and how those things didn’t coincide. She’s a character I sorely needed when I was her age.
Fat girls are practically nonexistent in teen lit. With recent outstanding exceptions, like Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, the landscape for girls like Tabitha in fiction is bleak. Many characters don’t find themselves until they lose weight. Others are the butt of jokes or the sassy sidekick. Few get their own love stories with the happy ever after.
While I loved reading teen-centric fiction like Sweet Valley High and The Babysitters Club as a kid, the main characters were all incredibly thin and popular. Nerdy characters and tomboys were represented, the red-headed, freckled girl with glasses and the outcast loner were there, but the fat girl wasn’t. It felt like those girls didn’t exist. So by the time I was a teen, I assumed that there was something abnormal about me because I was larger than other girls. Maybe I wasn’t worth knowing, talking about, or even writing about. In fact, the only book I can remember that featured a bigger girl was Blubber by Judy Bloom. And let me tell you, that title and the vicious nickname that inspired it were not reassuring.
So when I created Tabitha, I knew she was going to be that girl who was underrepresented in YA fiction. A girl who didn’t fit the typical mold for romance heroines. A fat girl.
She doesn’t find herself through weight loss, or learn to love her body in spite of its size. She just learns to accept that she’s who she is. Period. She falls in love and makes friends and runs away from home. Through it all, she’s fat. She’s fat, and it’s okay. Other than a few outliers who ridicule her for her size, no one treats Tabitha like she’s different from them. Boys and girls are interested in her. She gets the girl.
That last point turned out to be the most important part of all. When I got my manuscript back from my editor, she said, “I’m so glad you wrote a book where the cool girl falls for the big girl.”
Why is that so important? Because that’s life—that sort of thing actually happens in real life, and it’s important that all teens are represented in fiction. Even the fat ones.
Never one for following the “rules,” Carrie Pack is a published author of books in multiple genres, including Designs on You, In the Present Tense (a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year finalist) and the forthcoming Grrrls on the Side (2017). Her novels focus on characters finding themselves in their own time—something she experienced for herself when she came out as bisexual recently. She’s passionate about positive representation in her writing and has been a feminist before she knew what the word meant, thanks to a progressive and civic-minded grandmother. Coincidentally that’s also where she got her love of red lipstick and desserts. Carrie lives in Florida, or as she likes to call it, “America’s Wang.”
But wait, there’s more! One Grand Prize winner will receive a $25 Interlude Press Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Hold. In addition, five winners will receive an eBook copy of Grrrls on the Side.
Just click on the image below to enter!
And check out the rest of the tour while you’re at it: