Big Girl
by Sullivan, Mecca Jamilah






"Exquisitely compassionate and witty, Big Girl traces the intergenerational hungers and desires of Black womanhood, as told through the unforgettable voice of Malaya Clondon. In her highly anticipated debut novel, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan explores the perils-and undeniable beauty-of insatiable longing. Growing up in a rapidly changing Harlem, eight-year-old Malaya hates when her mother drags her to Weight Watchers meetings; she'd rather paint alone in her bedroom or enjoy forbidden street foods with her father. For Malaya, the pressures of her predominantly white Upper East Side prep school are relentless, as are the expectations passed down from her painfully proper mother and sharp-tongued grandmother. As she comes of age in the 1990s, she finds solacein the music of Biggie Smalls and Aaliyah, but her weight continues to climb-until a family tragedy forces her to face the source of her hunger, ultimately shattering her inherited stigmas surrounding women's bodies, and embracing her own desire. Written with vibrant lyricism shot through with tenderness, Big Girl announces Sullivan as an urgent and vital voice in contemporary fiction"-





*Starred Review* Sullivan's debut novel is an engrossing coming-of-age story starring Malaya, a young teenager facing the world in a body that is constantly scrutinized, commented on, and judged. Growing up in 1990s Harlem, Malaya thinks about little else besides when, where, and what she is going to eat. She sits through Weight Watchers meetings with her mother, who also struggles with her weight, knowing that she will be rewarded with french fries. She sneaks second dinners, indulges in the treats her friend Shaniece brings for the bus ride to school, and shares forbidden bodega sandwiches and Chinese food with her father. As she continues to put on weight, her mother urges a variety of solutions while her grandmother tries to scare her with threats, such as no man will want a woman that big. All the while, Malaya wonders what it even means to be a woman, and what it means to become one in a fat, Black body like hers. There are no broad strokes in this novel. With grace and patience, Sullivan invites the reader into Malaya's interior world-one of yearnings and rejections-and her rapidly changing exterior world. An affecting and memorable debut. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.





In this debut novel set in 1990s Harlem, a young girl learns-and redefines-what it means to take up space. Eight-year-old Malaya Clondon weighs 168 pounds. It's also true that she is Black, that her family recently moved from a tiny apartment on the Lower East Side to a brownstone uptown, and that she attends Galton Elementary Academy for the Gifted, but her weight seems to be the most important fact about her to most of the people around her. It's what her classmates see. It's what leads her mother, Nyela, to monitor Malaya's food and take her to Weight Watchers meetings. And it's what prompts her grandmother Ma-Mère to suggest that Malaya get gastric bypass surgery. Only a couple of close friends and Malaya's father recognize that there is more to her than a number on a scale and unruly desires. By high school, she will have a larger circle of friends. She finds solace and joy in the rhymes of Biggie Smalls. And she discovers a new sense of style as she builds a wardrobe inspired by the rappers she sees on MTV. But she still hungers for experiences that she believes are reserved for thin girls-a hunger that becomes more complex when her best friend, Shaniece, becomes a thin girl herself. In an effort to meet this need, Malaya will acquiesce to sexual experiences that bring her no pleasure, just a hint of what it feels like to be wanted, before she begins to explore what it truly is that she, herself, wants. Sullivan writes with tenderness and uses the language of poetry to communicate her protagonist's inner life. In difficult moments, Malaya escapes into fantasy, and she uses drawing and painting as emotional outlets. But what begins as dissociation evolves into a more confident relationship with her art, just as Malaya will ultimately learn to inhabit her body with a sense of license and possibility. She decides to let go of the shame Ma-Mère passed on to Nyela, and Nyela passed on to Malaya, and not measure herself in terms of fatness and thinness but in terms of "the smallness of a body against a broad scape of mountains" and "the smallness of life in the big, busy world." A lyrical and important coming-of-age novel. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





In this debut novel set in 1990s Harlem, a young girl learns-and redefines-what it means to take up space. Eight-year-old Malaya Clondon weighs 168 pounds. It's also true that she is Black, that her family recently moved from a tiny apartment on the Lower East Side to a brownstone uptown, and that she attends Galton Elementary Academy for the Gifted, but her weight seems to be the most important fact about her to most of the people around her. It's what her classmates see. It's what leads her mother, Nyela, to monitor Malaya's food and take her to Weight Watchers meetings. And it's what prompts her grandmother Ma-Mère to suggest that Malaya get gastric bypass surgery. Only a couple of close friends and Malaya's father recognize that there is more to her than a number on a scale and unruly desires. By high school, she will have a larger circle of friends. She finds solace and joy in the rhymes of Biggie Smalls. And she discovers a new sense of style as she builds a wardrobe inspired by the rappers she sees on MTV. But she still hungers for experiences that she believes are reserved for thin girls-a hunger that becomes more complex when her best friend, Shaniece, becomes a thin girl herself. In an effort to meet this need, Malaya will acquiesce to sexual experiences that bring her no pleasure, just a hint of what it feels like to be wanted, before she begins to explore what it truly is that she, herself, wants. Sullivan writes with tenderness and uses the language of poetry to communicate her protagonist's inner life. In difficult moments, Malaya escapes into fantasy, and she uses drawing and painting as emotional outlets. But what begins as dissociation evolves into a more confident relationship with her art, just as Malaya will ultimately learn to inhabit her body with a sense of license and possibility. She decides to let go of the shame Ma-Mère passed on to Nyela, and Nyela passed on to Malaya, and not measure herself in terms of fatness and thinness but in terms of "the smallness of a body against a broad scape of mountains" and "the smallness of life in the big, busy world." A lyrical and important coming-of-age novel. Copyright Kirkus 2022 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2022 Follett School Solutions