“Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London was my Book of the Month pick for June. I just read a bunch of really dark and disturbing books, so I figured I could use something light for a change. As soon as I read the synopsis for this book, I knew it would be perfect for me. I am a fan of the Bachelor franchise, an avid listener to the Here to Make Friends podcast, and look forward to every horrible season of this show. It’s not something I can explain (hah) so I won’t even try. But, with that in mind, I was so eager to read this book.
I loved everything about this book. Bea is such a great character, and the way her story is introduced was just perfect. We get to learn about her life, her background, her career and her love life rather quickly in the first fifty pages, but not in a rushed way. It perfectly sets the stage for Bea’s new opportunity to be on TV. I had to laugh at the name of the show, Main Squeeze, and the fact that the lead o the show is in fact, the main squeeze. I just loved that!
Of course there is a greater theme running through this story surrounding body image. Bea is plus-size and as most of us even tangentially know, there has never been a plus-size lead on the Bachelor, or in this case on the fictional Main Squeeze TV show either. My heart went out to Bea as she considered all of the backlash she might face as the star of the show before she made her decision.
Ultimately her fears held her back from fully committing herself to being on the show, which was hard to watch. I don’t blame her for being on the defensive for so much of the show, but it was clearly impacting more than just her relationships with the suitors. As she soon discovers, almost all of the suitors were equally self-conscious about aspects of themselves and reasons for being on the show. Their varying personalities and backstories added a lot of diversity and representation to this book.
One of the things I loved the most was the role of social media. From the very beginning Bea is online tweeting about the show, and throughout her journey we get little insights as to how fans are reacting on Twitter. We also get to read articles from various bloggers and journalists as they document the progress of the show, and we even get to see some blog posts from Bea herself. I’ve always enjoyed when books incorporate elements like that into a story and I thought in this case it was so appropriate and well-executed.
I would recommend this to anyone looking for a fun read, but especially for anyone who is a fan of pop culture, specifically anything to do with the Bachelor franchise.