Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright (Link to InfoSoup record)
Sixteen-year-old Carlos has always wanted to be a makeup artist to the stars, so when his friend suggests that he start out at a makeup counter in Macy’s as a first step, he immediately takes action. The makeup business may seem glamorous on the outside, but as Carlos discovers it filled with jealousy too. When Carlos gets on the bad side of his new boss, he has to try to figure out how to make things right again. Unfortunately, that probably does not include taking a star up on doing her makeup on her TV show. Carlos has other problems too, including a close friend who won’t talk to him after some expensive boots are ruined, his sister getting beat up by her boyfriend, and his own crush on a classmate. This book explores the world of a gay teen who has a dream, is not afraid to fight for it, and steps beyond any stereotypes and into a place all his own.
Wright has written a dazzling character in Carlos, a boy who is not afraid of big dreams, drama and fabulous clothes. Carlos at times can be very self-centered and focused on himself rather than others, but this aspect of him is honestly written and true of any teen who is looking to succeed at their wildest dreams. Carlos could at first be read as a gay stereotypical character, but as the book continues readers see past the gay makeup artist and into the heart of a real person.
The writing here is straight-forward and reads with great ease. The story has enough tension to keep it moving, deals with deeper subject matter than makeup and great clothes, and looks into the world of a boy who is out and proud. Those around him in his family are supportive, but others are less so, something we see in modern society today. Again, the book is real and honest about acceptance but also points to the importance of being true to oneself.
The winner of the 2012 Stonewall Book Award, this is a book that opens minds, invites in dreams, and is absolutely as fabulous as a pair of Stella McCartney boots. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster.