Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it’s the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her.
But lately Sarah can’t even play basketball right. She’s slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn’t feel like it’s her own anymore. She’s worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what’s happening.
When Sarah’s crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She’ll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn’t need to change to feel good about herself.
Title: Taking Up Space
Author: Alyson Gerber
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Genre: Middle-Grade, Realistic Fiction, Mental Health
This honest and necessary middle-grade novel gives a good look into the mind of kids who suffer from mental health issues and how our words/actions can affect them.
This book is a very emotional read. It’s different from most other middle-grade novels I’ve read because of the strong emotions it emits, but also because it deals with some heavy issues. It discusses mental health/eating disorders, body image, and relationships, mostly familial. It is a great read for both youth and adult and I think will have a lasting impact on its readers.
Gerber discussed these difficult subjects very well. She took them seriously and taught the necessary lessons while truly having our main character, Sarah, live through these trials. Sarah is only 12 so we’re seeing these issues through her young eyes and it’s very enlightening. I especially love how Gerber pointed out the effects people have on one another. Many of Sarah’s emotions and some of her hardships were direct results of her relationships with her family and friends. Some were supportive. Others were contributing to the problem. Gerber did a great job of pointing out these issues and handling them in a sensitive manner.
Even as an adult, I was left feeling uplifted and enlightened with a new sense of encouragement and love. We all matter and deserve to be loved by those around us. Gerber especially expressed this in her author letter, but even without that, I felt that message in Sarah’s story.
Overall, this is an incredible story that deserves to be discussed everywhere. I think Sarah’s story can help both youth and adults everywhere to learn more about eating disorders, and body image, and loving unconditionally. I’m excited to share this book with some friends.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed a gifted and advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Alyson Gerber is the author of the critically-acclaimed, own-voices novels Braced and Focused. Her third novel Taking Up Space will be in stores on May 18, 2021. She has an MFA from The New School in Writing for Children and lives in New York City with her family.
BRACED received three starred reviews, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and has been nominated for state book awards in Oklahoma, Indiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, South Dakota, and Georgia. Alyson’s second novel, FOCUSED, about a girl caught between her love of chess and her ADHD, was picked as a best book of year by The Today Show, Kirkus Reviews, and A Mighty Girl and has been nominated for state book awards in Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Michigan. Her latest novel, TAKING UP SPACE, based on her experience with disordered eating, will help readers recognize how much they matter and see that if something negative is taking up space in their minds, even if there isn’t a name for it, they should ask for help.
Learn more about Alyson at www.alysongerber.com and find her everywhere else @alysongerber.