Tretch Farm is in love with his best friend. That would be hard enough for any teenager but his best friend is Matt Gooby and they live in a small Southern town where it’s not easy to be gay. What’s even worse is that Matt wants Tretch to help him date beautiful Amy, and Lana the bookstore clerk seems to be crushing on Tretch herself! It’s all too much when he just really wants to kiss Matt.
But that’s not how it works out.
This cute teen romance and coming out story follows the “I’m in love with my best friend” trope nicely while also turning it on it’s head. They don’t end up together, but they’re not supposed to, and the book ends on a bittersweet, but contented note.
While I enjoyed the book, I wish the author had spent more time getting into Tretch’s head and emotions. There is a passing comment about a boy in the the next town committing suicide over being bullied for being gay, and while Tretch is upset, the author never really connects this incident and Tretch’s wandering onto a frozen pond where he almost drowns. He makes up abruptly with a childhood bully and seems to accept the reality of Matt moving away to New York without much angst. To me it all seemed to wrap up a bit too cleanly. I will say that I appreciated Tretch’s friends and family accepting his coming out without any drama or homophobia. That is a breath of fresh air for LGBTQ YA and while horrible reactions to coming out is very common in life and in literature, it’s nice to have a happy ending even if it’s not with a grand romance.
This is the author’s first book and some parts—jokes about the Farm family farm and the hilarious peek into Tretch’s teenaged horniness when he almost masturbates in a laundry room after seeing Matt naked—show potential and make me look forward to more from Walton.
Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin…Every Inch of It
September 19, 2015
I loooove memoirs, especially memoirs from women bold enough to talk about supposedly taboo topics, like their bodies and all the stuff their bodies do, in ways that push back against the objectification of the female form. Objectified bodies don’t leak, and Brittany Gibbons is here to tell you all about how her body leaks and is unruly and all the things our bodies do, seemingly without our “command.”
Gibbon’s voice is refreshing and follows the sort of rambling humor style similar to other memoirists like The Bloggess. Her attitude: “go big or go home” permeates the book and is certainly inspiring for being bigger, bolder, and unapologetic. She’s uncomfortably honest (which is good) and fat-positive, but also admits struggling with weight in a very real and conflicted way. I liked that part the most because it is helping me reconciling my own conflicting feelings about my own body. Further, as a girl with a big personality, but who ultimately realizes she is a small-town country girl, I related to the small-town life that underlies many of her stories.
Have you ever picked up a book just because you had a good feeling about it? You’ve never heard of it, don’t recognize the author, and don’t even know what it’s about? This began as one of those books. It also happened to be one of the rare instances when an impulse buy not only met, but exceeded my expectations.
When I got home from the bookstore and finally bothered to read the blurb, it sounded almost like a mystery. A teenager and her friend go missing, the family is distraught, etc., etc. But what I found was that by the beginning of the novel, everything regarding Araxi’s disappearance has already been dealt with. She left of her own will, didn’t leave any way for her family to find her, and the police have done all they can do. Okay, I thought, so it’s really about Araxi and why she ran away right? Not quite. As the title states right off the bat, what Zilelian is interested in writing about is how Araxi’s disappearance has forced her remaining family to confront their tragic existence and question how each of them has contributed to the inhospitable life that drove her away. More than that though, Zilelian traces the paths of each family member that led them to this point.
Also the title suggests, this book is about what these characters have lost. Araxi is not the only one who is gone: her mother Tamar has spent her life mourning a love that could never have been, and her father Levon is infuriated by this emotional absence. Family members pass, friends move away, and each character must face the person they have become.
Zilelian’s debut novel conveys an urgency that I haven’t found in others like it. And it’s not a desperation to reclaim what the characters have lost, but this aggressive, pervasive misery at its absence. Through the losses of life, love, and hope, Zilelian illustrates what remains when these things leave us.