The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Book Review)

So I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson and thought the story-telling was brilliant. I loved the book. The pages turned rapidly and I’ve already picked up the second book in the series to read. I want to reiterate. I loved the book. I hate myself a little bit for that and this is why.

From the first few pages, I could tell that something about Elisa, the main character, wasn’t quite what I was used to reading. She was a princess. She had a destiny. Both of these things are commonplace in YA literature. That wasn’t it. Things started clicking into place as she describes herself as looking like a “sausage roll” in the corset required for her wedding dress. When the seams rip on the dress I wondered if the author has ever worn a corset before or seen anyone wearing one. A “sausage roll” is not the way I would describe the effect of a corset.

Still, it established that Elisa wasn’t stick thin.

This actually excited me. An overweight protagonist in YA lit. This book was going to show teenagers that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. This book was going to show girls that being overweight doesn’t mean you can’t do something with your life. This book was going to prove that you don’t have to be skinny to be a heroine.

As you can tell, a couple of chapters into the book, I was expecting a story where Elisa came to terms with her body and still accomplished her destiny.

I was wrong.

By the end of the book she is skinny. She doesn’t even begin to go about accomplishing her destiny until she’s lost weight.

What sort of lesson is this teaching girls?

The exact same lesson that has been ingrained into us year after year by media. Only skinny people can accomplish great things. Don’t even try if you’re fat.

I can’t tell if the author was intentionally trying to fat-shame or if it was an accidental by-product of telling the story. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

All I know is that I loved the book. But the inherent message didn’t sit well with me and that with every minute that passed after I closed the cover, I felt guiltier.

On that note, I’m off to read book two.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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