A true to life drama takes on an issue rarely touched upon in middle grade books—disordered eating. I can attest it’s real with more kids acting upon their beliefs about food and body image. Both girls and boys. The author took her own experiences and created a compelling and honest look at the struggle many kids face with dieting and avoiding foods that “aren’t good for you.”

Sarah is an only child of two loving parents. Her passion is playing on the middle school’s basketball team. This is where she matters. At home, Mom sometimes forgets to feed her and even though there are stashes of candy, it’s never enough or should it ever be a substitute for a meal.

Lately though Sarah feels slow on the basketball court and is missing way too many shots. She cuts out all food not on Mom’s safe list and begins to see results. But her choices soon lead to problems both on the court and off. Adding to Sarah’s troubles is a first crush on a boy who asks her to be partners in a cooking competition. A friend likes the same boy leading to a lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

The theme of feeling good about yourself shines through as Sarah finds cooking is something she enjoys and just maybe her beliefs about food she shares with her mom are totally wrong. It takes a coach, a counselor, a best friend, and finally her parents to give her the strength to change. It’s an important story sure to resonate and provide much needed discussion in homes and classrooms. Kids will feel better about themselves by spending time with Sarah and TAKING UP SPACE.



  1. The basketball scenes are authentic as were the interactions among students in classrooms and hallways. So hard to nail this in literature but the author was spot on.
  2. Sarah’s first person narration also hits the mark, especially as she internalizes how others react to her situation.
  3. Kids in seventh grade face a tough challenge of still being a kid but also growing up fast. The innocent crush was handled beautifully.
  4. Best friend Ryan is the type of friend every child should have. She’s compassionate and always on the lookout to make life better for Sarah.
  5. The author’s note at the end is a must read, too. Good place to start if you wonder whether you should read this book. Teens will be impacted by the author’s own story.


(FROM HER AUTHOR WEB SITE)Alyson Gerber is the author of the critically-acclaimed, own-voices novels Braced and Focused published by Scholastic. Her third novel Taking Up Space is in in stores now. She has an MFA from The New School in Writing for Children and lives in New York City with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. Comments are welcome below and be sure to check the other participants in this week’s edition of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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7 Responses to TAKING UP SPACE

  1. Pingback: MMGM for June 7, 2021 | Always in the Middle…

  2. Danielle Hammelef says:

    This book is high on my wish list to read this year because I know I will see myself and the experiences I went through. This aspect of reading is so important and I’m more than pleased books with diverse characters are getting into the hands of readers.

  3. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I saw a review of this book on Karen Yingling’s blog two weeks ago, and it sounds excellent! You’re right, there’s not many stories that talk about eating disorders, so I imagine this book will be invaluable for many readers. I’m glad that Sarah’s narration rang true for you as well! Thanks so much for the great review!

  4. This is a book I will check out. First time I’ve heard the term “disordered eating.” I worked with girls with eating disorders back in the 70s-80s — when little was known and treatment programs were starting. Will be interesting to see what this book is about and what the author has to share.

  5. I love a good author’s note. Although, I usually save them for after I read the book. This one certainly looks interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  6. First, I love the cover. It’s very strong. Second, this is such an important issue not just for kids, but for everyone. I’ve never heard the phrase “disordered eating” before, but it speaks to me. I will have to check this one out. Thanks for the review.

  7. I never heard the term disordered eating before, but it is definitely an important issue. It sounds like it was handled perfectly by Alyson.

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