Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber
This is the third middle grade novel by the author I’ve had the pleasure of reading (she also wrote BRACED and FOCUSED) and though all of her stories are based on her life experiences, this one has an emotional punch that makes it stand out from the others. It’s about twelve-year-old Sarah, whose body is changing and affecting her coordination and agility on the basketball court. Sarah receives mixed messages about food from the people around her, including those from her mom who sometimes forgets to feed her and who doesn’t buy enough food despite her daily trips to the grocery store. Sarah interprets the information to mean she needs to eat less, and only certain foods, to regain her status on the court. As Sarah’s food intake becomes a source of gossip among her friends (especially when they discover she hid the fact she joined the Chef Junior cooking competition and is taking cooking lessons from her health partner and her best friend’s crush, Benny) it threatens not only her place on the team and her relationship with her friends, but also her physical and mental health. Sarah is forced to seek help for her food issues and we watch her start to make sense of how to listen to her body, understand what’s happening, and take care of what it needs in a healthy way.
I would highly recommend this book for Gr. 6-8. I read it right after STARFISH by Lisa Fipps, another amazing middle grade novel that we have in our collection about body size.