Book Review: Big and Fabulous The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles


Obviously, this post is going to be quite a bit different from my usual blog content. However, I do want to do some posts related to body positivity, so I thought this would be a good way to ease into it. Let me start by giving you an idea of what this book is about. This is the description on Amazon and also the description on the back cover of the book:

“Imperfect, impervious and improving, Brenda Cankles is an unlikely heroine. Unfazed by the enduring censure of society, she is determined to realize the fabulous life that she has always believed is her destiny.
Brenda’s story—written in the unflinching first person—is utterly unvarnished. Here, find a fantastically real person, sometimes struggling to fit in, but mostly giving the rest of the world the mother-lovin’ bird. From her clunky childhood through her stumbling yet optimistic adolescence to her full-figured and unapologetic emergence into adulthood, Brenda is a special brand of warrior. She is big, bold and beautiful. While the quirky cast of characters who surround her is eternally insistent that Brenda live her life in the background and fit into society’s mold, she will have none of it.
Dip into the outspoken world of Brenda Cankles and get lost in the adventure of a big and fabulous gal who takes no prisoners, makes no excuses and has never had any doubt about how truly special she is.”

I’m going to be honest. I have very mixed feelings on this book. There are some things I do have an issue with, having been overweight all my life. I don’t appreciate that the main character’s last name is “Cankles.” When I first heard the name of the book, I thought it was going to be a parody or something to make fun of the plus size community based solely on the last name. I don’t understand why an author who wants to discuss body positivity would choose this as a last name. I was and still am a little offended by this.

The book is described as “funny” and the author is a stand up comic. That was lost on me. I would say the book was entertaining but I would not consider it funny. I don’t remember laughing or even smiling all that much while reading it. Although it was a good story, I just didn’t get the “funny” aspect.

I also think the main character’s childhood was extremely stereotypical and not true to most people’s experiences. In the book, Brenda is an outcast. She doesn’t seem to fit in with her peers and doesn’t seem to have many friends. Yet, one day when she meets two actors who put on a play for her school, they change her life because they made her feel special. I don’t know about you but I wasn’t an outcast. I had a lot of friends. Yes, there was the occasional bully in grade school. But I never felt different just based on the fact that I was chubbier than my classmates. In addition, if she did feel that way, I doubt that one brief interaction with strangers would completely change her outlook on life. I find it very inauthentic.

There were parts of the book I really enjoyed. I liked that even though Brenda’s mom would tell her to not wear a certain thing because of her weight and to look in the mirror, she would look in a mirror and not see one thing wrong with her body. I liked that she was true to herself regardless of what others thought of her. I liked the story about Brenda going to try on swim suits and the thin snobby girl at the desk giving her attitude and saying that she didn’t know if they had anything in her size. That stuff really does happen in real life! I liked that no matter what stood her way, she thought the world of herself. She knows she is plus size because she likes to eat and does not apologize for that fact.

I felt like there were some things included in the book that I could really relate to. If you do choose to read this book, let me know your thoughts! I would recommend reading it just for the entertaining stories and body positivity aspect. I’ll leave a link below in case you’d like to read it yourself!

Get the book here!



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