Fat Girl Fairy Boy, Carol McConkie (Blue Star Books, 2013)

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Fat Girl Fairy Boy tells the story of Frieda Kunkelheimer, an ageing Hollywood actress and her make-up artist/closest friend, Robin Morris. Carol McConkie’s skilful biographical narration takes us individually through the lives of each protagonist, from birth, to the start of their endearing friendship and later on a trip destined for South America; a journey which will change their lives forever.

Frieda was always pretty, despite being labelled as ‘ugly’ by Ursula, the stern German grandmother by whom she was raised. A social recluse, Frieda is more content with the company of her animal friends, who return her affection and do not call her nasty names like the bullies at school. But her negligent childhood and further traumatic experiences cause psychological damage, a theme handled excellently by McConkie; Frieda bottles up her feelings leading to emotional detachment, she develops a hatred for mirrors and discovers that the only way to deal with these problems is to run…

Robin finds his love for fashion when dressing up with the leftover materials from his mother’s job. He is mollycoddled by his mother and this pampering leads to a fear of flying, driving and most importantly of illness, with which he is plagued from an early age. Robin’s homosexuality and lower social standing make him feel inferior in the world, until some bittersweet good fortune emerges from a heartbreak, which helps him to achieve his dreams: to become a make-up artist.

McConkie, with her expert characterisation, helps to maintain our closeness with Frieda and Robin throughout their personal journeys and struggles, as if we were part of the story; you will find yourself hoping for happy outcomes to two lives riddled with pain, shedding tears of sadness, joy and laughter along the way.

The author’s versatility as a writer is made evident as she increases the pace, injecting adventure and excitement into the second half of the novel, where a planned plane journey to Brazil goes horribly wrong.

Although this section of the novel contains the darkest parts of Fat Girl Fairy Boy, it is in this disaster that the two friends forget the superficial world of showbiz and consequently find the answer to their problems in the most unlikely place: an El Salvadoran jungle. Frieda finally fills the hole left in her heart by a neglected childhood and Robin discovers strength and boldness from a past-life.

My only complaint about the novel is that I wish it was longer! I wanted to continue reading on and on. Nonetheless, Carol McConkie achieves so much, educating us on decades of US history, through the Great Depression, WWII, 60s counter-culture and Americo-Latin American political relations. In Fat Girl Fairy Boy she has produced an absolute gem – an emotional, well-written novel of friendship and self-discovery – and I look forward to reading more from her!

Reviewed as an eBook for Book Hub, Inc.

Available at Amazon, KoboBarnes & Noble, iTunes,
Google Books, and coming soon to SONY!

4 Books

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7 Comments

Filed under Drama

7 responses to “Fat Girl Fairy Boy, Carol McConkie (Blue Star Books, 2013)

  1. Pingback: Fat Girl Fairy Boy, Carol McConkie (Blue Star Books, 2013) | Book Hub, Inc.

  2. I read Fat Girl Fairy Boy too and I also thoroughly enjoyed it. (If you’re interested, you can see my review of it on my blog)

    Can I ask you about your reaction to the character of Robin? I personally found him to be a little bit unrealistic, his character arc struggled to ring true with me the more I reflect upon it.

    Was this just me or did you feel similar?

  3. Hi Sinead,

    Funnily enough I was just reading your review of Fat Girl Fairy Boy, because I thought it was a nice coincidence we had both read and reviewed the same book 🙂

    I like your review very much and I could see that you did not get along well with Robin haha.

    Please excuse me, as I read the book quite a while ago, but from what I can remember I did feel a lot of sympathy for Robin, because of the bullying he faced in childhood, and later the persecution he received at the hands of the El Salvadoran guerrillas. (I understand there was a graphic scene here, regarding the latter, which yourself and many other reviewers felt was out of place and excessive).

    However, thinking back and taking your comments into consideration, I can see where you are coming from. Are you referring to the major turnaround in his character, from completely shy and fearful of most things to becoming heroically brave towards the end?

    I can see how it is unrealistic, but I have to say i enjoyed the personal development in the novel, especially as it showed that in extreme situations you are able to put things into perspective and reflect on yourself.

    I must apologise for the essay-length response, and for disagreeing somewhat with your opinion. Nevertheless, this is a good discussion 🙂 and I wouldn’t mind at all if you totally disregard my arguments.

    Many thanks again for responding,

    Nathan

    • Hi Nathan,

      Please don’t ever apologise for disagreeing with me, it’s nice to talk about things with people of different mindsets!

      Yes I was referring to the major turnaround he underwent. Although your point about the effect of extreme situations is something I hadn’t really considered.

      After this book, I happened to read another one featuring a character who was extremely close to his mother (a chance occurrence as I picked the book at random in the library) and by the end I felt so fatigued of boys and their mothers!!

  4. Pingback: Fat Girl Fairy Boy, Carol McConkie (Blue Star Books, 2013) | The Rag Tree

  5. tfcc: a great review, and i’ve reposted…thanks for sharing!! RT

    • Hi,

      I’m very happy you liked the review! Many thanks for the re-post.

      Please take a look at my other reviews.

      Good luck with your blogging.

      Regards,

      Nathan

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