Title: Also Known As Lard Butt
Author: Ann Herrick
Genre: Pre-teen/ YA contemporary
Series: Stand alone
Publisher: Books We Love Ltd.
Rating: 2 stars
Laura finds out that, Ricky, the boy who created her horrible nickname, "Lard Butt," has moved back into town—and immediately schemes to keep him quiet. After all, she can't let her new swim teammates, especially drool-worthy Noah, hear the horrible name! No way!
She's determined to put a million years between grade school and junior high—even in the face of a father who drives an éclair, a would-be-movie-star mother who suddenly moves back home, and a past that comes back to haunt her with the dreaded nickname.
Although Laura's embarrassed about how she looks in a swimsuit, she tries to stay true to her vow to take risks. She even lets Maria talk her into going to the school dance, where she braves negotiating a truce for a quarreling couple. New friendships form, Laura's mother starts getting too domesticated for Laura's comfort, and hints of romance start to develop—or do they?
Also Known as Lard Butt is unlike most books I review as it is a novella, rather than a full-blown novel. This, for me, was both positive and negative and I shall try to explain why.
First off, 2 stars may seem like a low rating to many of you, however, looking at reviews elsewhere the book got 4 stars, so it seems my honest opinion is a minority and therefore you shouldn't give this read a miss simply based on my judgment. Anyway, enough ramble - here is what I thought:
Although the book I believe is aimed at YA, I think a more accurate audience would be the younger people in this sector. There was no obscenity and it was all PG, which actually I loved. reading copious amounts of YA leads many younger readers to become completely desensitized to rude language and sexual references, so it was actually sort of nice to come across a book for teens that was, well...tame. This in my view makes it perfect as a sort of step up book from pre-teen to YA, for younger teens basically. Having said this, I still enjoyed it at a ripe old age of 17.
I completely whizzed through this book. Undoubtedly, the short length did help with this but it was strangely gripping. I say strangely gripping, as for me the plot was a little bland. There was no real plot twists nor plot development and I reached the end with a sense of: 'oh that's it?' as nothing really actually happened in the book. Obviously, as a novella I wasn't expecting it to have a huge and complex plot as it simply isn't possible for a book this size. However, I did feel like the storyline would have benefitted from being a novel. I felt the story being told and the themes were far more suited to a full sized book.
having said this, at an age where many struggle to keep reading and don't even enjoy reading, the short and easy plot is great to just get into and read without too much brain power required. However, for those who were like me at age 12 and 13, I felt there wasn't quite enough sustenance to leave me satisfied at the end.
Similarly to the plot, the writing style was accessible and pretty basic and would again have benefitted from development that can be gained from a novel over a novella. I thought the conversational tone, however, was really good and the speech was fluent and realistic.
The characters and moral message of the story were its diadems. The characters were all real and easy to visualise. It was also nice to see the protagonist as an average person. Honestly, YA has some pretty unrealistic expectations for teenagers - we can't all be wizards or shadowhunters or end up with the hottest guy at the school, and Also Known as Lard Butt made that ok.
Speaking of unrealistic expectations...because body image is so topical in everyone's lives, particularly teenage girls, I think having Laura be a great person who succeeds in what she wants despite being afraid of what people think she looks like is really inspiring and to be honest I think we all need a little more Laura in our lives.