Taking Up Space

taking up space

Middle school,  Puberty..  Geez, who needs it.

Sarah's life is great.  She's a star on the middle school basketball team and she and her BFFs have each other's backs.  And then.....

So, what do you do when your mother is really weird about food?  As in she never shops for groceries and there is no food in your house.  For Sarah it's a battle.  Every now and then she speaks up for herself - like when her friends are coming over after basketball practice and Sarah knows they'll all want snacks - lots of snacks. So Sarah leaves her mother a list of what to buy at the grocery but then when all the girls show up there is one bag of Doritos and no sign of the pretzels and other snacks Sarah knew the girls would want.

So, what do you do when your body starts to change and you can't even count on yourself to play the game of basketball the way you always have?  What do you do when you feel tired and you hurt and none of your body parts are listening to what you're telling them to do?

For Sarah it starts to become a puzzle, with the biggest mystery being, "Who am I?"  Who is she if she isn't a star basketball player?  Who is she if she starts believing food is bad for her.

Family life is very private for a lot of folks out there.  The odd things parents do are secrets.  The controlling that one generation in a family insists on creeps into the next generation unnamed, unrecognized but not unfelt.

When you begin to believe that you don't deserve anything good and you begin to believe that you don't really matter maybe not eating and getting skinny can change things.

Middle school is a tough time for Sarah.  She's got a crush.  She's losing her friends.  She's losing her identity.  What does she have to gain?

A heartfelt, knowing exploration of how it feels to grow up in a dysfunctional family, learning not to like who you are, and leaning on food or a lack of it to save you. This story feels like a good friend.  It feels like someone understands.  It feels like someone can put into words what it's like to be you and to explain all the pain and confusion that build up inside you.   It's a gift... a gift that will touch readers deeply.

272 pages                                              978-1338186000                   Ages 8-12

Keywords: middle school, girls and women, mothers/daughters, basketball, self image, self acceptance, body image, eating disorder, believing in yourself, friends, friendship, cooking, crush, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, bullies, family life

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com


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.

Booklist described Gerber's novels in starred reviews as both "highly empathetic" and "truly inspiring." Taking Up Space promises to be a realistic and compelling story about struggling with body image and learning that true self-esteem comes from within.---from the publisher

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