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Published Book or Work by:

Jess Mowry

Phat Acceptance

Phat Acceptance
Buy this book
Published by Windstorm Creative
2007
ISBN: 978-1590922675
What's eating Brandon Williams? At age fourteen, he seems to have everything American teens are entitled to: he's blond, blued-eyed, with a surfer pose. Although a bit chubby around the waist, he has muscles in all the right places, and lives in a million-dollar house that overlooks the ocean in Santa Cruz, California. Like his high-school senior brother Chad, he gets a generous allowance from his liberal-minded parents; and there's even a maid to clean up his room, which is stuffed with the latest high-tech gear. So, why isn't Brandon happy? What's missing from his perfect life of sun, surf and skateboards? He's gone to a private all-white school from kindergarten through eighth grade, but has wasted a year in a fog of dope dreams; and the only friend who hasn't abandoned him is Tommy Turner, a fat twelve-year-old who lives next door.

Brandon hopes to be a writer someday and fight against injustice, but pot gave him no inspiration. A fantasy warrior in cyberspace, he's a crusader without a realtime cause, a fighter with nothing to fight for. Although he knows these things exist, he's never experienced prejudice, discrimination or hate. After all, what is there to hate about Brandon? He's not handsome or muscular enough to be envied for his looks, he's open-minded in an innocent way, and he's not chubby enough to be dissed for a fat kid. The only "problem" he's part of is not knowing he's part of a problem.

But, this year is different: against his parents' wishes he decides to attend a public high school. It's a whole new world for Brandon, and scary because no one knows him. Not surprisingly, he finds himself among the outcasts. His first new friends are an enormous fat boy named Travis, one of the few black kids in Santa Cruz and maybe the fattest dude on the planet. Brandon's other first-day friends include a fat Native-American boy named Danny Little-Wing, a chubby Latino gang member named Carlos, and Rex Watson, the school's smallest kid who skipped a grade to find himself in high school a year too soon. There is also Bosco Donatello, a chubby world-class surfer-dude, but strangely lost in space. Bosco is also oddly out of date, like a ghost boy from 1963, a time when surf music ruled the airwaves, before the Black Panthers, the Vietnam War, and protest marches by kids with long hair who knew the System was lying to them.

In the months that follow, Brandon discovers the fat-kid world and all its different inhabitants, from kids forced on diets by "health-nazi" parents and made to feel guilty about everything they eat as if food were some sort of dangerous drug, to other kids who love being fat and even try to get fatter. It's a secret and often cyber-world of "gainers, feeders, admirers and encouragers" from all around the world.

Brandon also discovers hate... hate for fat kids that is made "okay" by American society. It might not be politically-correct to dis a kid for being black, Latino, Jewish, or gay, but it's totally acceptable to make a kid's life an endless hell just because they're "overweight." Like any form of ignorant hate, some kids can handle it while others can't... sometimes with fatal results. And, the constant pressure to be movie-star thin makes normal kids suffer and healthy kids sick, while feeding a billion-dollar industry of mostly bogus "health" and diets.

In this first year of public school, and through a mild yet turbulant Santa Cruz winter, Brandon discovers his real self and strength. While society constantly preaches that inside every "fat kid" is a thin kid crying to be free, Brandon finds that he's always been a happy, healthy, chubby warrior with the power to fight injustice and hate.

More Information...
Ethnic , Multicultural , Young Adult
 
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From: Jess Mowry (Timounn@aol.com) 2008-09-03

(A Teacher's Review) Today’s hysteria-hyped “obesity epidemic” is being brought to us by the same type of I-know-what’s-best-for-you Fascists who gave us such “save-us-from...” (insert group to be hated here) abominations as Prohibition and the Yellow Peril. On more extreme levels these self-righteous guardians of humanity have burned witches, crucified Christians, crusaded against Muslims and sponsored Inquisitions. When enamored with and encouraged by psychopathic, paranoid, or otherwise demented leaders, they are capable of bringing about or at least allowing horrors such as the Holocaust. Whether knowingly or naively this current crop of witch-burners have aligned themselves with the multibillion dollar “health” and diet industry and would force us to believe that any child who doesn’t look like a refugee from an African civil war is “obese” and therefore doomed to die from a heart-attack by the age of twenty unless mentally re-educated and physically restyled. Phat Acceptance is a deceptively funny and easy-going yet thought-provoking young teen novel whose main protagonist is fourteen-year-old Brandon Williams. Some might say that Brandon is an over-privileged, upper-middle-class white boy because he lives in a million-dollar house overlooking the ocean in Santa Cruz, CA, gets a weekly allowance equal to the take-home pay of many service industry workers, and has gone to a private, all-white school from K through eighth grade. While many health-nazis would rant that he’s “overweight,” Brandon is actually about average in build, and good-looking by American Caucasian standards. Indeed, it’s his averageness that seems to have been a handicap in a sunny, seaside environment where blond, blue-eyed, surfer dudes are a dime a dozen. Also by American standards, Brandon should be happy, or least think he is, but he’s not. Besides the usual teen angst, he’s as confused and restless as a virile young ram approaching his first mating season. Like many young teens he’s tried to escape his confusion in cyberspace and fantasy tales, and has even created a world of his own with his best friend, twelve-year-old Tommy Tuner, a cheerful fat boy who lives next door. Brandon has also tried to dull his pain in various ways, and has wasted a year of his youth hanging with the stoner crowd. But Brandon hopes to be a writer and use pen or PC to right some of the wrongs of the world. Being who he is and living where he does, he’s never experienced discrimination or hate based on appearance, race or religious belief, though like wars or famines in faraway lands he’s dimly aware that such wrongs exist. Despite the protests of his liberal-minded and loving, but career-oriented and somewhat distant parents, Brandon decides to attend a public high school. He isn’t completely naive, mostly thanks to his older brother, Chad, who also attended public high school and is now a senior; but Brandon’s first day is a reality-check as he discovers what public education in the U.S. is really all about... pounding just enough knowledge and mainstream values into kids’ empty skulls so they can get their “McFreakin’ diplomas.” Since no one knows Brandon at school, he naturally falls in with the outcasts, which include Travis White, one of the few black students and also the fattest at five-hundred pounds. Other new friends include, Danny Little-Wing, a Native-American boy from a long-forgotten local tribe and the second-fattest dude at school; Carlos, a pudgy gang member; Zach, a pot-bellied “gainer;” Rex Watson, a smaller-than-average boy with higher-than-average grades who was kicked into high school a year early; and dismal Jason Bray who is really not “obese” but who has been taught that he is and therefore to hate himself . There is also chubby Bosco Donatello, a world-class surfer though indifferent to his fame and seemingly oblivious to the present as if he’s been transported through time from 1963. Like most of Jess Mowry’s books, Phat Acceptance is a well-brewed mix of many themes and issues; social-consciousness, including consumerism, advertising, and how our children are brainwashed from the time they first turn on a TV into buying what they’re told to buy, wearing what they’re told to wear, eating what they’re told to eat, looking how they’re told to look -- which now includes weighing what they’re told to weigh -- and of course believing what they’re told to believe, including hating who they’re told to hate. Brandon has never been hated before, and there is some wrestling with the question of whether a person can truly empathize with the suffering of others unless he or she has actually experienced their pain. Along these lines are many amusing scenes as Brandon discovers that most of what he “knows” about black people (and fat people) is only what he’s been told to believe. Travis often surprises him by not being what Brandon has been told that most black dudes are. As an eighth grade teacher at an inner-city school with mostly black students, I’ve found that seeing white kids though the eyes that many white kids see black kids is an enlightening experience. Brandon also delves into the mostly cyber universe of teen and pre-teen “gainers, feeders, admirers, and encouragers,” a rapidly growing (no pun intended) counterculture that few young-adult authors, educators, and experts on youth seem aware of... or perhaps are brave enough to admit exists. We also see how the mostly-for-profit “war on obesity” gives haters a group of people and children whom it’s socially acceptable to hate -- new niggers, perhaps -- as well as how sheep-like we are in accepting how “unhealthy” we are by constantly being told that we are. In his first book, Rats In The Trees, written in 1988, Jess Mowry spoke of the crack epidemic and resulting gangs, guns and violence spreading out of the then most innercity environment into white suburbia, along with the worst aspects of the Hip-Hop and G generations. Has this not happened? In Phat Acceptance, Mr. Mowry speaks of mandatory fat camps, health police, and children being taken from their parents simply because they weigh too much by State mandated standards. It seems we are already dangerously close to the point where the government can tell us how much we can weigh: one can already be fired from a job, no matter how well they perform it, for simply refusing to lose weight. While listening to a recent radio talk show I heard rants about how “we must make the government make our kids healthy by mandating health programs and fitness standards in schools,” spewed by people who seemed (conveniently?) oblivious to the fact that many of our high schools - and not just those in innercities - regularly graduate kids who can’t even read their own diplomas. Or, as Mr. Mowry puts it: “Lean. mean, mindless machines physiclly fit for work or war who never question their televised orders to buy and consume everything on the planet.” But, Phat Acceptance is a lot more than just a story about fat kids or a warning about health-nazis: there are elements of history, time-travel and the supernatural. We even learn a few things about surfing. And, to some extent, young people may gain understanding into how we - black, white, brown, or red - got from “there” (1963) to here. “Fat,” as the book cover rightly proclaims, “crosses all color lines.”