There was an article that I read back in September that brought up the fact that despite the near-inclusiveness of YA books, fat people were still not as highlighted nor embraced as mainstream characters, and that fat-shaming was one of the few remaining acceptable targets. While I’m all for being healthy (I know that I ought to be better with my diet), I hate fat-shaming. I detest the yearly onslaught of “New Year’s Resolution- Lose X Pounds!”; I hate the criticism of a perfectly healthy person being chubby; and I loathe the BMI with a fiery burning passion. (Fun fact! The person who thought up the BMI did so to prove possible criminal activity. Yeah.) For teenage girls, it’s worse. Not only do we have to deal with the relentless onslaught that is high school—which does wonders for confidence, let me tell you—but we have no one to look up to. When I was in school, I didn’t have any chubby role models, much less anyone who could be considered “fat” but still seen as a sex object. For a while, there was Jordin Sparks, but even she lost weight. The fat girl cannot be a sexualized object, and should she even dare think of sex, she must be ridiculed for it.We need more books like this one.There is no magical weight-loss makeover here. No impossible standards by which the heroine is considered fat. No chubby-chasing, despite what Brody’s brother thinks. And Hayley isn’t ridiculed for attempting to be sexy. Why didn’t I have a book like this when I was sixteen?Hayley is one of the more realistic heroines I’ve come across in a long time. She’s insecure about her weight and how boys see her, but she has a wicked sense of humor that she utilizes. (I loved when she rates her body, noting “Well, the good thing is I have a rack.”) Yes, in most other books, whenever Hayley turns down Brody, it could have been “You idiot, can’t you see he loves you!” But it’s not here, because we see why Hayley’s so insecure about boys liking her and what they really want her for. The fact that Brody has fallen for Hayley is unbelievable for her because she’s been told (directly and indirectly) that she’ll never be good enough for any passable guy. Even when Brody does act like an idiot and doesn’t tell anyone about their relationship, it felt more true here when Hayley gets upset because she does have a reason for having that reaction. If anything, I would have liked to gotten more with her mother, maybe to flesh out Hayley’s insecurities more. But I do really like her. I also like that while she’s fat, Hayley’s friendly with everyone and isn’t treated like a member of the lower caste. And even though it’s not dwelt on, her body is brought up in text, not only through Brody’s sex filter, but also in minor scenes, like when she gets her tattoo. I also love that she’s able to fall naturally into conversations with Brody; it gives the two a lot of chemistry and really sets up their relationship.The other thing I absolutely love about this book is Brody. On a writing standpoint, it is really hard to write the opposite sex and pull it off well. Brody’s voice was extremely strong and he did feel like a genuine teenage boy, with the constant acknowledgements of “Oh, God, I’m checking her out, aren’t I?” Yet despite being a horny teenage boy, Brody earns my undying love in that he is respectful toward women. Not “big man help puny women-folk”-masked-as-chivalry. He actually respects Quynn and Hayley as people. When he said that he has no claim on Quynn and their relationship prior to the book gives him no claim, I actually wanted to cheer. (Or, as my brain thought, “Did he just obliterate the nice guy argument?”) Brody’s not perfect, and he does screw-up frequently, but the fact that he was conscious of the screw-ups and tried to make things better made me love him even more. And Brody and Hayley’s relationship in all. I have to admit, when I first started reading this, I thought that this was going to be mostly about Brody desperately trying to win over Quynn before realizing in the last third that he’s in love with Hayley. (I think this says more about my expectations in YA.) Nope. The romance is between Brody and Hayley. There’s some waffling early on, but once Brody realizes his real feelings, it’s all about Hayley. Even their first time together is handled admirably, with Hayley seducing Brody and the two gleefully leaping into bed. If there’s anything I really wanted more of, I wanted to get a better idea of what Brody’s other relationships were like. I liked that he wanted to be on friendly terms with Quynn (again, no nice guy bs!); and I really liked Brody’s relationship with his parents. (Tangent, I had to do a fist-pump when Brody clarifies that his step-dad is his real dad, and that his biological dad did nothing for him. Yes.) But I wanted to get more of Brody’s friends, especially since Brody keeping his relationship with Hayley quiet is a big part of the climax. That whole plot point could have worked a lot better if we had gotten more with Tanner and Brody. The plot is standard YA fluff, but what Becca Ann did with these characters makes it more interesting than any other YA romcom that I’ve come across. Brody alone gets all of my points, but making Hayley into a real character who can be seen as a role model earns major respect in my book. There’s a positive and endearing message not just for girls, but for boys as well. This is a definite recommend.