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.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: May 18, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 272
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT TAKING UP SPACE by Alyson Gerber
- 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.
- Sarah’s first person narration also hits the mark, especially as she internalizes how others react to her situation.
- Kids in seventh grade face a tough challenge of still being a kid but also growing up fast. The innocent crush was handled beautifully.
- 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.
- 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(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.