#BookReview: On The Plus Side by Jenny L. Howe

Lots Of Grand Ideas. No Technical Errors. Plenty Readers May Not Like. This is one of those books that is filled with GRANDIOSE IDEAS it wants to communicate and build an interesting story around. And it does that. There are no glaring technical errors with anything about this book. The plot works within world, the characters are serviceable enough for the genre generally, and the GRANDIOSE IDEAS are all given at least some “screen time”.

All of this noted, there are *several* issues here that individual readers may have problems with, depending on their own experiences.

The book opens with an author’s note about why she doesn’t have a problem with “fat” in the context of this tale + trigger warnings. Ok, there is a lot of discussion on trigger warnings at the front of books in Booklandia, with different people coming down on different sides there. Clearly, Howe has staked her position. Fair enough, but again, some readers may not like this.

Then we get into the various GRANDIOSE IDEAS as we go throughout the actual tale.

Self Acceptance. Noble idea, some may not like the execution of how it is explored.
Family Drama. While a certain family member is written almost as an antagonist… this is going to be one of those “antagonists” that at least some readers are likely going to agree with more than the main character.
“Reality” TV (and the lack of actual reality therein). This is a main driver of the plot, and for the most part works well enough. But there is a lot of social commentary here that I suspect won’t hit as hard for many as perhaps Howe had hoped.

Others get more into spoiler territory, so I’ll not discuss them here. But you get the idea. For at least some readers, this will absolutely be OHMYGODAMAZEBALLSAWESOMESAUCETHANKYOUFORWRITINGTHISMOSTIMPORTANTBOOKEVAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! level. I suspect that for most readers, this book will more likely fall into the “ok” – “good, but a few problems” range. And I do think that its 4.06 average across just over 500 reviews just days before publication (yes, I too read this as an ARC) is both evidence that I am right and, to my mind, roughly where its rating average is likely to pan out over time.


This review of On The Plus Side by Jenny L. Howe was originally written on December 22, 2023.