“The Downside of being Charlie” Jenny Torres Sanchez

Running Press Teens, 2012. 266 pp.

Downside of being CharlieAll his life, Charlie has had a weight problem. The summer before senior year, he loses 30 pounds at Fat Camp. Determined to start his last year of school on a high note, Charlie is devastated to learn his locker partner is the biggest loser in the school. Through association, his social status sinks lower than he thought possible as pranks are played on both of them. To make matters worse, his mother constantly abandons him and his father for long periods of time. She’s gone again, so his father decides to have an affair and is also never home. The stress of pretending everything is fine with his home life starts to show as Charlie becomes bulimic. His crush on Charlotte, the beautiful girl in his drama class, hits a snag as he can’t vocalize his bottled feelings, while Mark, his nemesis, takes every opportunity possible to tear him down in front of her.

The only bright spot is photography class. Charlie has always loved the story behind his photos, and has the chance to enter a contest and win a scholarship to a prestigious school. However, his horrible luck interrupts even that as life deals him a blow that will bring him to his knees.

I loved the raw honesty, humor and emotion in this book. Sanchez created a character easy to relate to, and easy to love. I’m sure we’ll be seeing “The Downside of being Charlie” on the ALA Media Awards list this coming January. Remember, you read it here first.

Recommended for readers 14 and older.

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