Title: One to Watch
Author: Kate Stayman-London
Pub. Date: July 7th 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Dial Press
Pages: 432 pages
Stylish plus-size fashion blogger Bea Schumacher has just experienced some heart break. Alongside one of her closest friends, she sets out to watch the very popular dating show The Main Squeeze. While watching she starts to actively tweet about the lack of diversity each season. Her tweet garners a ton of traction from others who’d also like to see the show diversify their cast & main squeeze. Be a doesn’t know the show has just experienced some major changes behind closed doors as far as show runners. Saving the show has now been left in the hands of a new director who sees Bea’s tweet & thinks it to be the PERFECT opportunity to raise ratings. Never before has the show cast a plus- size main squeeze & Bea seems vocal enough to possibly accept the role. Bea sees this as a moment for her to represent many who have been unlucky in love, to inspire confidence in others. She doesn’t anticipate how hard this gig really is or all of the back lash she’d be exposed to for being a plus-size female. Something she has had to deal with in the past but never on this big a scale on national television.
This is not the story of a woman who is 100% confident in her skin all of the time. This is the very accurate portrayal of what some women have dealt with when judged by a society not yet ready to accept beauty in all shapes & sizes. It is harsh & brutal to read all of the cruel things viewers said about Bea while watching the show…yet these people do exist. It was triggering to read as someone who has always struggled with weight & have only within these last 2 years felt comfortable in my own skin. Nonetheless, I experienced my fair share of cruel moments & found this story inspiring. This is a story about a woman who found strength & beauty within. She wasn’t willing to settle for anyone who didn’t see her as the truly phenomenal woman that she is!
Bea Baby! I adore you! I shed tears reading some of the disgusting vitriol spewed her way & wondered in amazement at her strength. Yes, she did have moments of weakness but she legit stood up & dusted her shoulders off each & every time. Bea wasn’t confident all her life, she had to find that within! as a matter of fact she spent most of her youth covering her body. She didn’t love herself at the start of this story & allowed herself to get caught up in a triangle she had no business in. Did I enjoy reading that? no I did not. I also know how dark a place it is when you lack self love & self worth. She could’ve bowed out many times throughout but knew that just as there were those humans who couldn’t accept her for her outward appearance, there were many counting on her. Bea at the end of the book is who I’ve worked very hard to become, someone who knows they’re worthy of a greater love.
I’ve had some time away from this book to think on my rating & still rate it 5 stars. Not only for enjoyment (although it was fun once we started seeing Bea enjoy dating some of these men) but for the feelings it invoked in my reading experience. Were there things that could’ve been better? Yes absolutely! the contestants could’ve been fleshed out but instead their ethnicity/race were briefly mentioned once. Considering the whole point was to advocate for diversity, it would’ve been much more appreciated & well received had we gotten more from the men. In no way do I believe that it would’ve taken away from Bea’s story. In fact, my curiosity heightened at the end to read a book from the POV of Bea’s black love interest.
I saw a lot of my personal journey in Bea’s story & a lot of it is ugly and painful. I wouldn’t pick this book up if I’m looking for a confident woman who is all about body positivity because that is not Bea. She’s had a rough go at loving herself & wanting more than second best when it comes to love. Personally, this story resonated on so many levels. That feeling you experience when you finally go out with someone who sees your beauty…yea you definitely question if it’s real. You’ve grown used to the feeling of not quite measuring up but in reality you were just investing your time in the wrong people. Bea had to learn this & I cheered her on all the way to that realization.