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Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Fat Cat

by Robin Brande

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2793240,505 (4.02)16
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    Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski (kaledrina)
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    Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee (writemeg)
    writemeg: Another great story about a teen girl's weight loss -- and ultimate transformation. Very moving!

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This YA book was wonderful! I have not read enough YA books to generalize but FAT CAT offers the reader a strong teenage female lead which is always a good role model for the age group reached by this book (Unusual back in the day when I was reading YA because I was a YA.) Cat is a bright high school junior trying to win a science fair. The topic was randomly assigned by picking a picture from a group the teacher provided. Cat was hoping for insects but instead ended up researching Hominids (female cave dwellers). To personalize the project she decides to live as much like a Hominid as possible in the 21st century. During the 7 months it takes to complete the project Cat not only transforms herself, but learns some important life lessons along the way. Cat and her best friend Amanda are smart, creative, talented, and just sassy enough to make them believable teenagers. This book does deal with some issues like being overweight, friendships and dating/family/sibling relationships but does so in a positive way. For myself as a reader, the only negative was that the book “preached” a little with regards to the benefits of a vegetarian diet. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but seeing the target reading audience is impressionable young people (girls) who may be battling weight issues of their own (be they real or perceived) … I felt the message just a little too strong. ( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

I’m grateful that Rose recommended Fat Cat by Robin Brande, because I’m not sure if I would have ever gotten around to it otherwise. Somehow it had been almost entirely off of my radar, which is a shame because this book is pretty damn awesome. It’s one of those books very driven by narrative voice, and I happen to love Cat’s voice. Brande tackles some sensitive issues, like weight and diet, thoughtfully and with an eye towards making healthy choices, not to conforming to society.

Fat Cat is one of those books where the fat heroine does lose a lot of the weight by the end, so if that’s not what you want be warned. However, I do think it happens in a really great way. Cat doesn’t lose the weight through a crash diet or anything and she does so for herself with lifestyle changes. I love that at the end it’s stressed that Cat lost the weight for herself and not so that people will think of her differently. She also really considers the behavior of people towards her, and looks askance at those that only liked her after she lost the weight. Brande definitely does not come across as fat-shaming Cat, which I think is the most important thing.

Cat’s got a really great voice. She’s funny and a little judgmental. She’s also inquisitive and set in her ways. She has a lot of trouble looking past her own viewpoint, which is completely accurate. Fat Cat is Cat’s emotional journey to self-awareness and self-acceptance. One of the things she learns, that I also learned and continue to learn even at 26, is that a lot of beauty lies in confidence. If you feel ugly and uncomfortable, you project that and people are more likely to perceive you that way. Looking back at my high school photos, all of my smiles look pained, because, though I’d gotten cuter than in middle school, I still felt ugly and unwanted; in my middle school photos, I mostly just glowered. If you hate yourself, it shows and makes other people more tempted to do the same. That’s hackneyed, but it also happens to be true. Brande really stresses the fact that it’s your opinion of yourself that matters more than any other.

In addition to Cat, I love Amanda, and their friendship. She and Amanda are very different people in a lot of ways, but they have one of the best YA friendships. Amanda and Cat support each other, even if it’s sometimes inconvenient. Cat agrees to give dating a try because Amanda thinks it might be good for her. She also agrees to help Amanda keep a restaurant going. In turn, Amanda’s fully supportive of Cat’s project to live like a hominin, despite believing the project to be overambitious. What’s great is that they don’t always agree but they do help out as much as they can; they express dissenting opinions but agree on a course of action together and have each other’s back all through the process.

The romance was really well done too, with Cat getting to date a couple of different guys before hooking up with the ship, who I totally called by the way and, yes, I ship it. I love the YA novels where the heroine doesn’t HEA with the first guy she ever dates. Even better, Cat very clearly has difficult handling emotions and figuring out whether she’s interested in a particular guy. Then there’s the divide between emotional and physical attraction; I loved the way she was carried away by lust with Nick, despite herself. Such things do not happen enough in YA novels.

The one aspect I didn’t super love was the science fair thing. First of all, this school sounded ridiculous to me, because it’s public but has all of these classes I don’t think most public schools offer, like this advanced science course all geared towards the science fair or sign language. There were a few more, but they escape me at the moment. Anyway, the science fair projects that both she and Matt do don’t really seem particularly original, which would be fine if Cat didn’t make them out to be the best teen scientists to ever happen. The ending helped with this a bit, but I got bored of this aspect really quickly.

Fat Cat made me laugh and smile many times. It’s a fluffy, heart-warming book full of humor and great attitudes. This is a book that I think needs a whole lot more buzz. I’ll definitely be looking for more Robin Brande, because this was fabulous. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Aug 21, 2014 |
First, the concept of a girl (a high school junior) trying a "cave girl" experiment for the science fair struck me as wildly funny. Not because I don't think high school girls wouldn't try this; but because there is a huge "paleo" trend happening. I put this book on my to-read just for that concept alone.

Second, Robin Brande knows the subtle and complex layers of the female high school psyche. Yes, yes. She's female, so at some point, she was A) a girl, and B) in high school; but as adults we usually forget the complexity of the teenage years. Maybe she just remembers better than I do.

Third, her characters aren't perfect; but they aren't broken dolls, either. There's stress and angst and emotion that moves the story and Cat forward.

Finally, I have one complaint. Where does Cat find all the time for school, work, research, cooking for her family, exercise, and sleep? This is the one aspect that never rings true for me. This doesn't ruin the book for me (obviously); but I spent a large portion of the novel wondering if she carried a time-turner. ( )
  lesmel | Aug 25, 2013 |
For her Science class Cat decides to try and live like the cavemen did, so she modifies her diet radically and gives up all modern conveniences. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Apr 13, 2013 |
I picked this book up because Meg Cabot praised it on her blog, and I was glad I did! Cat's struggles as an overweight but ambitious teen really struck home for me--and her struggle to survive (literally, at times!) her science project was riveting! I wish I could demonstrate the strength she shows in "living like a primiative homo erectus" for a year, but I just love my Pepsi Max a little bit too much.... ( )
  beckymmoe | Apr 3, 2013 |
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For the real Matthew and Amanda,
For John, source of all my favorite boyfriend lines,
And for Caroline, a better best friend than any I could invent in a novel.
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"You're all good little machines," Mr. Fizer told us.
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Overweight teenage Catherine embarks on a high school science project in which she must emulate the ways of hominims, the earliest ancestors of human beings, by eating an all-natural diet and foregoing technology.

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