Title: Fat Girl Fairy Boy
Author: Carol McConkie
Genre: Fiction, adult
Publisher: Blue Star Books (September 2012)
Rating: 3.5/6 – I strongly liked it!
Synopsis from Goodreads: Frieda Kunkelheimer knew she wasn’t welcome in the world from her earliest stirrings. She also knew she was big and ugly, as proclaimed by her grandmother on the day of her birth. Though Frieda Kunkelheimer later blossoms into a beautiful and successful Hollywood film star, it had been determined, even before birth, that she was unwanted and unloved.
En route to a film shoot, the embittered, aging actress known as Frie, and Robin, her fearful, phobic gay makeup artist, survive a plane crash in the jungles of Central America only to be held hostage by El Salvadoran guerrillas. Their self-absorbed lives take a backseat to the events of their capture as a bizarre set of circumstances unfold and kindle courage, compassion, and forgiveness they never thought possible.
‘Fat Girl Fairy Boy’ is a darkly humorous tale of family, friendship, and personal discovery. Written in masterful prose, and filled with rich characters, McConkie mixes irony, humor, and pathos while weaving multifaceted storylines into a wildly entertaining adventure. Few experienced novelists fare as well as McConkie in this debut literary event.
My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: I’ve only seen this cover floating around on the internet, and the title is catchy, so I kept putting it off and never went any further to see if I actually wanted to read it. So when I was offered an ebook copy by BookHub, I figured there was no better time and I jumped at the opportunity! Possible Spoilers Ahead.
Disclaimer: I was given a free ebook of Fat Girl Fairy Boy in exchange for an honest review.
What did I think about the characters? Wow, just wow! In a little over 200 pages, McConkie created not just one, but two, enormously well-developed and multi-dimensional characters. Frie wasn’t just the jaded, needy, past-her-prime actress: she was an abandoned girl searching for acceptance and confidence, too. And she didn’t stop there: by the end of the book she had grown comfortable in her own skin and began to show her true self – emotional and loving and content despite everything that happened.
Robin, too, was a standout character. Raised only by his mother, he grew up playing with makeup and dresses and everything else generally assigned to female children rather than male. To top it off, he was homosexual in a time when coming out was extraordinarily taboo. A major hypochondriac and a bit too comfortable in his posh lifestyle, he struggles the most, at least physically, during their captivity. By the end of it, though, he’s learned to stand up for himself, finds that he doesn’t need his inhaler anymore, and stands up for Frie despite his horrid punishment.
And the concept and plot? Concept: When I first started reading FGFB, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I soon figured out that it was a mix of self-discovery, character growth, adventure, and survival. I really liked the self discovery and character growth part, but wasn’t so blown away by the adventure and survival aspect.
Plot: In the first two chapters, Frie and Robin are introduced as adults in their forties, but then for the rest of the first half of the book we see flashbacks of their childhoods. The stories start out completely separate, but slowly become intertwined, and then in the second half we follow their present lives as they head to South America to shoot a movie: only to find themselves in the hands of a gang.
Based on the first half of the book, my rating would have been a 5/6. It was absolutely superb, giving me a detailed picture of each character while in actuality McConkie had written just tiny little snippets that were separated by years at a time. These small scenes were absolutely stunning, and I didn’t want them to end! But, I do have to calculate in the second half of the book, and that’s what lowered my rating to a 3.5/6. I felt like the magic of the first half dissipated, and the story of Frie and Robin’s capture and subsequent escape wasn’t gripping me. The last two or three chapters picked up, though, and left me feeling satisfied and appeased.
What about the writing style? McConkie’s writing is one of the best I’ve read in a while – no joke. She’s eloquent and descriptive in a slightly off-beat manner, but is at the same time succinct and straightforward. It’s the perfect balance of flowing sentences and brief statements. Her style is really what shone the most in the book, and it left me awestruck and wanting more.
Anything else you’d like to add? Honestly, I’m really on the fence about giving this one a 3.5. It’s more like a 3.7 or 3.8. I wasn’t fawning over it, because of the plot, but if I were to ignore the second half of the plot and only see the outstanding writing and characters, I’d give this a solid 4.5, if not a 5. It’s definitely worth the read, even if it doesn’t make my list of favorites.
Find the book at:
Barnes and Noble (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fat-girl-fairy-boy-carol-mcconkie/1029774632?ean=2940013947917