Quickies: Me and Fat Glenda


First of all, if you are trying to tell me the girl in the striped shirt is fat, then we are in trouble. Secondly, Linda Perl, you need a good editor to help you with your writing. There was way too many ideas going on for a single book. Sarah lives in California with crazy hippy parents. They don’t mention it, but you know it’s Berkeley. Ah, those were the days when Berkeley was the alternative center of the universe, instead of what it has turned into: old, aging hippies, clueless college students, and yuppies with their expensive strollers. But I still love it (I’m East bay for life).

This gal, Sarah, has an older brother and their thang is they make alphabet burgers. As in A is for Avacado Burgers, B is for Bacon burgers, etc. Sarah is also ashamed of her parents when they move in a garbage truck to Rhode Island or Maine or somewhere similar. Sarah meets the titular Glenda, who is not only fat but is the town scapegoat because of said fatness and her social awkwardness. She’s the kind of girl you want to feel bad for, but she doesn’t make it easy for herself (not talking about her weight, but her extreme neediness and lack of social savvy. Then again, Gelnda’s kind of fun, and kids are really mean.) Sarah actually finds most of the kids boring, and actually appreciates Glenda’s loyalty as a friend. Then there’s some drama about Halloween and a plot to ruin a garbage statue that Sarah’s parents sculpted on their front lawn.

We also are given a glimpse into Glenda’s fucked up relationship with her perfectionist mother and Glenda’s sad attempt at seducing Sarah’s older brother. At the end, Sarah ends up moving away again but promises to write to Glenda. We are supposed to be happy that Glenda finally has a friend, but now she’s moving away? Why punish this character even more?  Also, as I said, there are too many tidbits in this book, I’ve never read anything so unfocused.

I do seem to remember a sequel where Glenda loses weight by eating only three meals a day with nothing in between. Hence an inspiration for the diet I went on in high school, and lost 50 pounds as well as my healthy relationship with food and a healthy self-image. Woopsies! I guess I should blame Lila Perl for 15 years of my life I will never get back.

18 thoughts on “Quickies: Me and Fat Glenda

  1. kim says:

    I think I remember this! Once you mentioned the alphabet burgers it all came back to me. Scarred for life, I tell you, by some of those burgers.

  2. girltalkread says:

    I never read this which is surprising- I think I would have loved it! though my favorite character of size is Elsie from that oh god is the book called Fifth Grade can really kill you or something like that? And Elsie had a horrid mother? Then Elsie gets thin and hot and gets her own series but she is really needy and not as cool.

  3. maybeimamazed02 says:

    Nothing’s Fair in Fifth Grade–I think ihatewheat recapped it a while back. That’s a great book, and Elsie was awesome.

    I feel ya on gentrified ‘hoods, ihatewheat…my neighborhood now was way more alternative/punk when I was in college. Oh well. Still love it.

  4. Sadako says:

    That is weird that she’s the fat one–I was staring at the book trying to figure out who was fat!

    Sometimes I think that someone should do, like…a retrospective of the issue of fat/body image in YA books. I’ve seen some really insensitive treatments.

  5. nanette says:

    Apparently, there was a whole SERIES of Fat Glenda books. I remembered the sequel, “Hey, Remember Fat Glenda?” but I didn’t know there were several others, including “Fat Glenda’s Summer Romance” and “Fat Glenda Turns Fourteen.”

    Apparently, Lila Perl was obsessed with food, because she also wrote a bunch of cookbooks and historical nonfiction about what people ate in the colonial era, etc.

  6. Nikki says:

    Remember Fat Glenda! Oh, how I worshipped that book as a diet aid in jr. high/high school. I remember her resolving to ‘live on tomatoes and ice water’ to lose weight. Yeah, image issues indeed…

  7. Roger Patman says:

    Holy shit..that’s my fucking life story..if only that novel were named, ‘Fat Amy.’
    I think I’ll go and stuff my face with root beer, onion rings and a clam special.

  8. nikki says:

    How did I manage to miss the Fat Glenda books? How have I never even heard of them? I should turn in my YA book blogger badge. I also recapped Nothing’s Fair in the Fifth Grade with fat Elsie a while ago, along with it’s sequel, Sixth Grade can Really Kill you.

    Also, that cover? I see two skinny girls.

  9. Magpie says:

    THAT’s Fat Glenda?! Yeah, right. She reminds me of my BFF in high school, who was like a stick but used to moan about how fat she was just so we’d all tell her she was thin. On a more serious note, +1 point to the writer for including a heroine who’s not a “perfect size six” (that phrase is burned onto my retina), but -10 points for making her a loser with no social graces whose entire personality revolves around her size. Fail again, YA authors.

    Also, it’s kind of messed up for any YA book to advise kids that they should diet. But at least eating three meals a day with no snacks in between seems like a relatively sensible diet compared with today’s role models who all seem to project the message, “you know what works well as an appetite suppressant? Cocaine!”

  10. Vanessa Saxton says:

    Rhode Island or Maine or somewhere similar…love it. It’s like the east coast states are throwaway states in YAL world. Todd moved to Vermont, Amy moved to Connecticut, and anytime a minor character moved anywhere it would be to the east coast. But back to this post- what an awful concept for a book series- a “fat” girl. I thought size 10 Lois was bad. As someone who sports sizes L / XL and 12-14 I would be a social outcast in YAL world. I just can’t wrap my head around what some people deem “fat”. Maybe I am just in denial but even though I can shop at big girl stores I don’t see myself as that bad. I think I look normal.

  11. Roger Patman says:

    You know what? I proudly shop at Lane Bryant and enjoy browsing and finding bargins through the ‘plus size’ areas at various department stores..even though they are hidden in the back and at least 3 miles away (perhaps that is a hint~bite me y’all other not-to-be-named department stores). Not to be too serious, but I’ve battled bulimia off and on for 10 years…thankfully I’ve come to that point in my life that I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of how I look.
    To stay back on track, this site is FABUOLOUS and a way to get back at all the ‘perfect’ people…albeit in a YA book.
    Keep up the true dialogue IHW and others!

  12. sunstreakedblonde says:

    I wonder how much YA lit has destroyed all of our lives (OK, I’m being dramatic here, but I’m sure it’s had an effect). Reading all these comments about people struggling with weight struck a chord for me because my teenage experience was a lot like that. It’s crazy how all of us seem to have such similar stories.

    I was always disturbed how every time YA lit seemed have a positively portrayed “fat” character, she always ended up losing weight and getting popular and getting boys. The only exception that comes to mind is Lois Waller, but she was little more than a glorified extra in the SVH-verse. And Lois, unlike Robin Wilson, didn’t have the privilege of hanging with one or more of the Wakefields, so she doesn’t even count.

  13. Wheatless says:

    I remember Me and Fat Glenda being on the reading list for Grade 4 when my daughter, Glenda, was battling with her weight. As a parent I was absolutely incemsed that they would be reading and discussing such a book when it was obvious there was a person in the class with that problem. However, that book and the following ones became my daughter’s favorites at that time of her life. Not for the diet information but for the message that weight doesn’t have to be the only thing that shapes a person’s life. Now, there is another book on the market being given the heave-ho because it targets weight problems in adolescents. Hopefully, that one will also survive the rantings.

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