Book 16: Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright was a pretty good book. (PLEASE don’t harp on me because I didn’t characterize it as “incredible”, “perfect”, or “woah!”. It is just “pretty good”.)

This Young Adult novel, winner of the 2012 Stonewell Book Award for “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered experience” is funny, yet has serious undertones (bullying and physical violence towards a gay teen, domestic abuse, single-parent home, lay-offs, firings, etc…). But the author tackles these issues the way any teenaged boy would, with a grain of salt and an “I’ll deal with issue A and B later. Right now I’ll deal with issue C, and maybe issue D.” For example, our protagonist Carlos borrows a pair of $300 designer shoes from the store that a dear friend managers…the shoes are ruined when his sister’s boyfriend runs a sharp edge on one. Carlos feels bad and says he will pay his friend the $300 ASAP, but instead dines out multiple times with another friend and even buys a necklace for the boy he’s crushing on. All of that could’ve put a dent in the $300 he owed his friend. I just found that aspect of Carlos to be very annoying. I would not have stood for that, either as Carlos or as the friend.

Back to my review: I am glad this book was published and won an award. It is an LGBT book that contains violence against a gay person…but it’s not SO overwhelmingly heavy that you walk away from it depressed and angry. Instead the book gives non-LGBT readers a glimpse into the life of a gay teen; one that isn’t overly dramatic or hostile…just dramatic when he wants it to be, and hostile only until he confronts the offender. It is realistic, open-minded, and only a little stereotypical (Carlos wants to be a make-up artist to the stars; it is quite cliche, but it is done so well!!).

I am very glad I read the book and will be recommending it to teens and adults who want a light, funny LGBT read.

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