If The Shoe Fits

By Julie Murphy

After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.

Cinderella meets The Bachelor. 

Ideally, I’m over retellings, especially the main Disney princess stories. And you couldn’t pay me enough to watch The Bachelor. So why would I even consider reading this book? 

One reason – Plus size female protagonist. In my own mind, that’s exactly what I am – a plus-size, real life heroine!

After watching a few blips and blurbs from Julie Murphy’s instagram, I knew this book was for me. I read it under 24 hours and wasn’t disappointed – not even once. 

I’ve read a few stories where the author threw in a plus-size character, I guess for good measure. However, no one has told it from a real fat girl’s perspective. Julie Murphy got into my head and laid bare all my fears, all my feelings, all my self-doubt created by a skinny world, all the rejection I have dealt with due to my weight, even my fashion struggles and she did it while making me laugh. 

For that, Julie Murphy has found in me – a fat girl – a huge (no pun intended) fan! I read this book and for the first time in all my 52 years decided to cross the word “ugly” out of the phrase “fat and ugly”. I went to my full length mirror and saw a plus-size, dimpled, double chinned beauty looking back at me. 

The story of a fat girl winning a prince should be told over and over and over again until Hollywood gets it, until the fashion world gets it and until plus size men stop writing “slim, active girls need only reply” in their dating profiles. 

This is a book I will read over and over and over again. I will take this book out and read Cindy’s story whenever I feel bad about myself. I will remember how she took bits and pieces of a LuMac collection and strutted down a runway like the Queen she was! 

Thank you, Julie Murphy, for showing us fat girls some love, for telling us through this book we are beautiful and we DO deserve to get the prince in the end!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The Marvelous Mirza Girls

By Sheba Karim

To cure her post–senior year slump, made worse by the loss of her aunt Sonia, Noreen is ready to follow her mom on a gap year trip to New Delhi, hoping India can lessen her grief and bring her voice back.

In the world’s most polluted city, Noreen soon meets kind, handsome Kabir, who introduces her to the wonders of this magical, complicated place. With Kabir’s help—plus Bollywood celebrities, fourteenth-century ruins, karaoke parties, and Sufi saints—Noreen begins to rediscover her joyful voice.

But when a family scandal erupts, Noreen and Kabir must face complicated questions in their own relationship: What does it mean to truly stand by someone—and what are the boundaries of love? 

I picked up this book to read after hearing the author was a huge Gilmore Girls fan. I’m also a fan of the show and so I was excited to see what Sheba Karin could do with a story where the relationship between the mother and daughter mirrored the relationship between Lorelai and Rory.

I wasn’t disappointed as the mother/daughter relationship is nicely done and very much in the same vein of Gilmore Girls. Noreen and Ruby have an open, honest relationship. Ruby struggles in her relationship with her parents more for cultural reasons than monetary. The conversation between Noreen and Rudy is quick, witty and fun. But that’s where the Gilmore Girl parallel ends. 

After the death of a loved one, both girls travel to India for a summer. Aaand this is where I got lost. I embraced the total idea of being transported to a place I’ve never been and experience a culture I know little about. And perhaps because I knew so little is why I was so lost. The imagery and scenery was beautifully written. However, I kept needing to go to Google to find out what a phrase meant, or what a cultural reference was. Having to do that as often as I did broke up my reading that I got more than just a little distracted. I do want to learn more about the Indian culture as I find it to be meaningful and lovely and full of so much color but perhaps I needed to do that before I tried reading this book. 

There was just no character development for me. I didn’t see Noreen grow or evolve at all during the story, or what I read of the story. The storyline seemed consist of little more than her meeting up with Kabir and his friends over and over. I did get that she was grieving. In fact that theme was very nicely done. The way one’s world irrevocably changes after the death of a loved one was threaded evenly into the story and in a very realistic way. 

The underlying political themes flat out annoyed me. I don’t mind LGBTQ+ themes or themes of racism as they’re important for us to read. However, I felt like they had nothing to do with the story. They weren’t a main focus and did nothing to further the plot along. In fact, for me, they were distracting. 

I wish I could have loved this. I wanted to. But in the end, I couldn’t finish it due to lack of storyline, no character development and a flat support cast. 

⭐ ⭐