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No Big Deal | Bethany Rutter | Review

'It's not my body that's holding me back. I think it's more of a problem that people tell me my body should hold me back.'

Emily Daly is seventeen years old. She is funny and smart, she likes fashion and music, and she is fat. Emily likes her body and doesn't see why anyone else should have a problem with it, but Emily's mum is obsessed with dieting and desperate for Emily to join in with her newest diet plan, no matter how much Emily refuses. Although Emily knows she doesn't need to lose weight to be happy, doubts begin to crawl in when a boy rejects her at a party, seemingly because of her size, and are intensified when her best friend, Camila, a fellow fat girl, returns from holiday newly confident and newly thin.

Then there's Joe. Joe who likes the music Emily likes, and is possibly the cutest boy Emily has ever seen, and seems to like spending time with her too. Is it possible that he might like her the way she likes him? No matter how confident Emily is, it isn't always easy to ignore the fact that so many people seem to think she'd be happier if she lost weight, or the worry that Joe might not like her unless she does. With this new world of dating comes new insecurities, and the biggest challenge of all - remembering to love herself too.

No Big Deal feels like a UKYA classic in the making. It has the humour, heart, and authenticity that readers can expect from a contemporary YA story set in the UK, and a protagonist it is impossible not to root for, with a cast of friends and family to back her up. It is a fairly short read, with the pace to match, and will, I suspect, be read and re-read again and again by its fans. As a protagonist, Emily is a breath of fresh air: confident, self-assured in her own beliefs, but still with the realistic wobbles that all teenagers, no matter how confident, can certainly relate to. No Big Deal deals with important themes but, perhaps more importantly, it does so in a way that feels fun and, at times, intimate, in a very good way. It would be difficult for any adult to read Emily's story and not remember what it felt like to be seventeen, or for any seventeen year old to read it and not relate to some of Emily's struggles.

Rutter addresses a lot of issues facing teens, and everyone else, in No Big Deal, and, at times, yes, a few of these conversations can seem to have little to do with the plot at large, but they are important conversations to be having, not just for young people, and it is no small thing to see them had in a book for teenagers, at the heart of which is a simple message of loving, respecting, and trusting oneself. No Big Deal is the book I wish I had had as a teenager and Emily Daly is a protagonist all readers should look forward to meeting. The real triumph of No Big Deal is Rutter's ability to reach out, through her words, and tell the reader that they are not alone, and that they do not need to change for anyone. A message we all need to hear once in a while.

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley for review. All opinions expressed are the reviewer's own.

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