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Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy Hardcover – July 26, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wright gives voice, complexity, and heart to the kind of character often relegated to a cliché sidekick role...[Carlos is] a walking example of the inner strength teens need--regardless of their sexuality."
--Publishers Weekly

"Wright’s occasionally flashy but mostly straightforward...prose should work equally well for bookish and non-bookish readers."--Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will simultaneously root for and marvel at this fascinating character."--School Library Journal

"There's a whole lot going on in Wright’s novel, but it’s handled deftly and, for the most part, believably. Best of all, Carlos is not completely defined by his homosexuality. It is an important part of him, yes, but so are his ambition, his concern for his sister, and his capacity for friendship."--Booklist

"A fast-paced and humorous chick-lit read, Carlos is sure of himself and yet willing to acknowledge when he makes mistakes. His loyalty to friends and family and grace under pressure come through as he overcomes stereotyping to achieve his goal."--Library Media Connection

About the Author

Bil Wright is an award-winning novelist and playwright. His novels include Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (Lambda Literary Award and American Library Association Stonewall Book Award), the highly acclaimed When the Black Girl Sings (Junior Library Guild selection), and the critically acclaimed Sunday You Learn How to Box. His plays include Bloodsummer Rituals, based on the life of poet Audre Lorde (Jerome Fellowship), and Leave Me a Message (San Diego Human Rights Festival premiere). He is the Librettist for This One Girl’s Story (GLAAD nominee) and the winner of a LAMI (La Mama Playwriting Award). An associate professor of English at CUNY, Bil Wright lives in New York City. Visit him at BilWright.com.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416939962
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416939962
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,222,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really loved this book!
Carlos is wonderfully drawn.
The complex emotions he's feeling are so real and his voice is engaging, funny and very heartwarming.
All the characters to me are right on and the whole thing moves beautifully.
The book has lessons about fitting in and being one's own person, without being preachy.
It's a fun and very uplifting read.
And I do like it when our hero comes out on top!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Carlos Duarte is a self-possessed, somewhat overweight, gay, mildly cross-dressing, mildly make-up wearing 16 year old in NYC. He is great at applying makeup and through talent and bravado and a great work ethic, takes the first several steps on his dream-career of makeup artist to the stars. I enjoyed this book a lot. Carlos and his family, coworkers and most of his friends are accepting and supportive. It isn't all roses and neatly answered questions, but the overall feeling is one of acceptance, optimism and hope. Carlos is a thoughtful, very funny young man. Great job, Bil Wright.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book as part of an LGBT youth literature class that I'm taking and it was a good edition to the course. The protagonist, Carlos, is an excellent character with attitude and a drive to achieve his dreams. I really appreciated the fact that he was unfailingly optimistic and completely comfortable in his own skin. I think this is an excellent selection for middle school readers (and adults like myself, of course!) and includes some great conversation starting material. One thing that I really liked about this book was that Carlos is clearly a gay youth, but this is portrayed as just part who he is. The reader is shown through his thoughts and actions what a great character Carlos is rather than told, didactically, by the narrator.

The reason for 4 rather than 5 starts is the somewhat superficial nature of the story. There is some pretty heavy material presented (domestic violence) but overall it's a fairly lighthearted text that is easy to understand and process.
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Format: Paperback
I can't really understand all the love this book is receiving. From a craft perspective alone, this book is simple (not in the good way), the characters are flat and stock, and the entire plot feels contrived. But that is not why this book is as bad as it is. The text is incredibly misogynistic; page after page Wright insults women as fat, disgusting, crazy people. Similarly, his portrayal of gay men are all bitchy stereotypes. Carlos himself is one of the most egotistical, nonredeemable characters I have come across in a while. It's not even that I have dislike those sorts of characters, but the text then tries to make you care about him, which we don't, but it thinks we do. Further, Carlos is posited to be Hispanic, but this book is completely race blind. He is Hispanic in name only. Wright takes up another person's race as if all you have to do to accurately portray someone of another race is give them a Spanish sounding name. There is nothing authentic about this work, and it should be ashamed for how it treats women (I write this as a gay, white, male).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why does a middle-aged man wait so anxiously for each new Bil Wright book? Because I wish such an author had been around when I was a struggling teenager. Wright crafts his characters in a way that makes them instantly believable. More importantly, they are easy to relate to.

While Carlos, the central character in this latest Bil Wright book is openly gay, any young person who has ever felt outside the margins will be inspired by this story of achievement and overcoming. I have a strong admiration for Wright as a storyteller. As long as he writes, I will buy his books to read and buy more to give to young people in my life. Thanks, Bil, for making a difference for so many.
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Format: Paperback
What I found most interesting about Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy was the protagonist's struggle
to summon enough courage to confront his sister's brutal boyfriend, meet his mother's expectations
of a grown son,and approach a classmate whose sexuality is a constant and compelling mystery. Though it took me a
chapter or two to cheer for Carlos, I was soon hooked and couldn't put the book down. I kept turning the
page to see if Carlos would, as his mother urged, beat the truth out of his sister's lover or if Carlos's
crush would return Carlos's charmed love.

Without giving too much away, let's just say I had hoped Carlos's character would have more of an arc, but life isn't always
a perfect arc, more of a slow bending toward truth, integrity, purpose and courage. I loved Carlos' proud
and hard-working mother, the protective matriarch, and enjoyed the gender-bending Gleason, Carlos's talented
love interest. The sister, Rosalia, was a mystery though, a frustrating one, as I wanted to know more of her
backstory, why she made the choices she did.

Most of all, however, I got inside Carlos's skin to better understand the emotional tightrope a gay teen
walks as he owns his sexuality while facing homophobic peers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A poor teenager from a bad neighborhood is a terrific makeup artist and decides he's gonna get a job at the Macy's makeup counter and knock everyone's socks off, despite serious odds against that. And when he meets and gives great advice to a celebrity at the counter, his world changes.

I wanted to adore this book, because I think it is so deeply necessary. A main character of color, who is proud, out, fat, funny, into himself, confident, great at something and he knows it, worthy of love and he knows it... who is NOT cowering or bullied or about to jump off a bridge. It's refreshing in so many ways.

That said, the kindle version I read almost seemed like it might be an uncopyedited draft. I'm not sure if it needed better editing, or if the e-version was just a bit shoddy or straight up the wrong version. I guess maybe just things I'd have done differently execution-wise.

So I am giving five stars for the idea and for the main character, three stars for the actual execution.
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