If you’re in the mood for a story that delivers up some awesome body positivity and female empowerment, then you’ll love The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen. It’s full of friendship, rebellion, and a little bit of teenage romance (because DUH!). It was my first read by Larsen, but after the fun I had while reading it, it definitely won’t be my last.
A dazzling YA novel about a girl who isn’t afraid to be big and sexy and dance her heart out, and a discussion-provoking exploration of the mixed messages our society gives young women about their bodies and sexuality.
Addie is a talented dancer, a true-blue friend, fat, fierce, and driven. When she’s accepted into the prestigious dance program of her dreams, she thinks nothing can bring her down—until she realizes she doesn’t have enough money to go. Refusing to give up, Addie and her friends decide to put on a top-secret, invitation-only burlesque show to raise funds. But word soon gets out, and the slut- and body-shaming begin. Has Addie been resisting the patriarchy, or playing right into its hands?
Perfect for fans of Jennifer Mathieu and E. Lockhart, The Big Reveal asks hard-hitting feminist questions while reveling in some of life’s greatest joys: chasing your passions, falling in love, and embracing yourself exactly as you are.
I really enjoyed Larsen’s writing style. It was fairly straightforward, which I prefer in my contemporary stories, while also including some really hard hitting sentences that you felt deep in your soul. There were a few times when I caught myself tearing up or fist pumping the air! When a book makes me physically connect to it, I know it’s a keeper for me.
Addie was the star of this book for me. I loved her strength, especially when it came to shaking off all of her insecurities. She felt like a real character and person, someone who I immediately connected with. Now there were a few decisions she made that I didn’t necessarily feel were very realistic, but I guess that’s the case with most fictional stories. Gotta have that conflict, you know! But other than that, I felt she really gave us someone to root for and want to make a difference in how body positivity is such a great movement. As for the other characters, they were all interesting in their own right, if a little forgettable as a whole. I wish we could have gotten to really know them each a bit more individually, but this was really Addie’s story so we only ever get to experience them from her perspective. I did love their little friend group dynamic though. They were such a supportive bunch and I loved how they pushed her to shine. The romantic lead, Jack, was cute, but I’m glad that the romance was just a little sub-plot and not the focus of the story. Also, and I mean this 100%, fuck her mother. She is a terrible and selfish woman.
Now there were a few issues that I had with this book. While I loved the idea of an underground burlesque show to raise money, the actual show was such a tiny part of the book. I wish it had been given more time and description than what it was given. It happened, we glanced over it, and then it was over. For supposedly being such an integral part of the plot, it didn’t really stand out. Also… I NEED MORE DANCING. As a dancer growing up and in school, there was a lot of dance talk but not a lot actual dancing. I would have loved more scenes in dance class or practicing. To be fair though, this is really just my personal issue lol! The pacing also dragged a bit in the middle of the book, but I tend to feel that way about most contemporary novels in general.
With that being said, I feel like any issues I had with the book just melted away at climax, when it comes time for Addie to make her final stand. I don’t want to give too much away but… OH. MY. GOD. I haven’t read any speech in a novel before that moved me and left me feeling quite as empowered as Addie’s did. It was exactly how women and girls everywhere have felt at one time or another, and reading it being expressed like that was extremely powerful. If for no other reason than that, you should read this book.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars
Have you read The Big Reveal yet? If so, what did you think of it? How did THAT speech make you feel when you read it? Do you enjoy books with feminist messages?