Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: On The Plus Side by Tabatha Vargo

Title: On The Plus Side (Chubby Girls Chronicles #1)
Author: Tabatha Vargo
Publication Date: January 21, 2013

My rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

This book. I cannot say enough about it. First, this is a book with a REAL girl in it. I am not talking a girl with just some T and A.  No, she was a real girl with a real weight issue. I see a lot of books with heroines who have the former, but you don't get many who are a size 20.  So I say good for the author, for portraying a woman who isn't just plump 'in all the right places.' Lilly struggles with her weight issues and low self-esteem when it comes to men, but her heart is huge. And just like Devin, I fell in love with her.

From Goodreads:

Big girls need love, too, but at what cost?

Lilly is loaded, not only with money, but with weight. Both things she could do without. But even with her undesired millionaire status, she doesn’t hold on to false hopes of finding true love. So when a sexy stranger comes into her life dripping with seduction, she finds it hard to resist. The bigger they are the harder they fall and Lilly falls straight through the floor in love with Mr. Sexy. Too bad he’s there for all the wrong reasons.

The chance of losing it all will make you do some crazy things and Devin’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep his life together. All seems lost when out of nowhere he’s approached by a Millionaire Momma with an offer he can’t refuse. But even a womanizer like Devin has a heart and when the short, chunky girl with the carefree attitude breaks through his icy fa├žade, he finds that losing everything takes on a whole new meaning.

***Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young adult readers.***

My Thoughts:

First, let me start out by saying this, I think, is new adult. The Hero is about 22 and the heroine turns 21 in the book. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong about the new adult thing).  I usually don't read new adult mainly because so many are cliffhangers and I really can't handle cliffhangers. But this one is not. There is no cliffhanger and it's a full novel (Amazon says 345 pages for the Kindle).  And how did I run across this book? I happened to see a Goodreads friend add it to her "to read" shelf. I saw that, read the blurb, and then checked out the price. At $2.99 for a complete novel I snapped it up and fell head over heels.

This was my update status on GR as I read:  "I'm almost done with this book and it's killing me. So freaking funny in parts, but also so heartbreaking in others. I know it has to end eventually but I don't want it too! *Stomps feet*"

I rarely update my status on GR. But I had to in this case. I needed to tell someone just how much I loved the characters in this story. the beginning, loved to hate one of them. Cause I seriously did not like Devin. He was a selfish jerk. And immature. And he didn't think before he spoke! I mean, he messed up so many freaking times and some of the things he said, I don't know if I could have ever forgiven him. Ever. But Lilly. Lilly was so sweet and had such a heart of gold. And she saw how broken Devin was and stuck with him. She didn't leave like his mom had.

I think the best part is that Lilly got under his skin to the point where even when he was being an asshole he knew he couldn't live without her. He knew that she recognized the broken part of him, and instead of bailing on him, she stayed to help him work it out. And in turn, he did the same for her. She was so, so, so broken. Some of the passages in her narrative literally had me choking back tears.  Lilly broke my heart. I saw so much of me at that age in who she was. After years of being bullied and picked on and with little love in her life, she finally took a chance. And that is another important lesson from this book. About bullying. What those kids in school did to Lilly was so wrong. It was criminal. The hell she was put through is unimaginable. And sadly this happens all the time in schools around the country. I was bullied when I in high school so were some of my close friends.  I don't understand why or how kids learn to bully. I don't understand how it happens. Kids aren't born must be learned behavior, right? But how is it stopped? So many kids, like Lilly, like me, are so badly damaged by bullying and the effects, as is shown in this book, last a long time.

I am not going to say too much about a particular incident in the book because I don't want to spoil it for those who have not read it, but the scene with Jenny and Lilly? I was freaking shattered.  There isn't any other way to explain it. My heart stopped and at that point I just cried. I know, I'm a nerd and a baby for crying over a book, but don't hate. I mean, what Lilly did to protect Jenny was seriously brave and showed just how big Lilly's heart really was.

The book wasn't all about the tears though.  I laughed too. Some of the things Lilly thought or said...I was literally laughing out loud. I felt like I was reading a Bridget Jones book at times. The humor was authentic and not forced. Lilly also had a fantastic group of friends around her who I hope to find out more about later. (See below about my thoughts on future books).

Technically speaking the book was well written and I didn't run into any editing errors. This I thought was impressive since I believe this was self-published. Kudos to you Ms. Vargo for taking self-editing seriously. You are an example for writers everywhere, including me, to take the time to edit and polish. The alternating POV of Devin and Lilly was crucial to the story and I thought it was well done. If it hadn't been alternating, if I hadn't been able to "see" inside Devin's head, I likely would have hated him. But I was given that glimpse into a broken young man who just needed someone to stick by him while he got his head together.

The only real issue I had was the ending and with Devin's anger issues.  Regarding the ending, I thought it was a bit rushed and I was surprised how fast Lilly forgave Devin. But then again, maybe I wasn't. I think that, once Lilly thought about what Devin said to her-about how it wasn't for the money and then the necklace, I think that showed her he was telling the truth.  And the alternative to what it was would mean things were drawn out and I cannot stand it when things are over done. See how difficult I am as reader?! But seriously, the ending was good and it fit who the characters were so who am I to quibble, right? Oh and did I mention there is an epilogue?  I loves me an epilogue and this one was fantastic! 

As for Devin's anger issues, his point of view helped me to understand where his anger came from. And he didn't ever get violent with Lilly. But he did smash up his car. And his house. And I understand, the news was upsetting. But then he went after the guy from the party. And earlier in the book he punched Matt. (Yes he deserved it, but still.) At some point, I really wanted Devin to hit up an anger management class. (Heh...hit up...) I attributed his reactions to his unresolved mommy issues which thankfully resolved themselves and his age. So I can only hope that he grew out of this problem. And given the way he sounds in the epilogue, I am pretty confident in imagining he did.

I cannot wait to read more from this author in the future. Goodreads indicates that a second book, focusing on Shannon and Matt will be out in September. Hopefully Lilly's other friends get books too!

Here are the purchase links: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

*This book was a self-purchase and I was not in any way compensated for, or even asked, to review this book. All opinions are my own*

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