Sunday, April 29, 2012

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

YA literature has introduced me to so many unforgettable characters and now I'm adding New Yorker Carlos Duarte to that list. From Bil Wright's title, Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, you might think that Carlos is overweight and transgendered. A good guess, but not exactly right. Carlos is big and he does use cosmetics on himself. He is attracted to other boys, although still a virgin. His passion is applying makeup on other people. He is still in high school, but he plans to be a makeup artist to the stars. I love his spirit -- a combination of dreaming big, remaining optimistic and working hard for his goals against the odds.

From the moment that his best friend Angie suggests that he apply for a part-time job at the FeatureFace cosmetics counter in Macy's, Carlos has already leaped into the future, where he has aced the interview, been hired, is able to offer his sister Rosalia discounts and the whole thing is "beyond crazy fabulous!"

Carlos rushes to the fast food outlet where Rosalia works to tell her the good news, ignoring her coworkers stares: "[L]ike my head was spinning around while I was talking. All right, I'm not stupid. It was raining hard and I had on my black vinyl slicker and the hat that goes with it. And my mascara may even have been smudged a little from so much rain. So, I didn't look like any of the yuppies in the stupid place. Or those boys in their dirty uniforms. But I never look like anyone else, and that's the point. I don't want to look like anyone else."

Carlos is a teenager and so of course he messes up occasionally. Sometimes in a big way. I admire the way he takes responsibility for his actions when he makes mistakes. I was cheering for him all the way.

Readalikes: Will Grayson, Will Grayson (John Green and David Levithan) and Freak Show (James St. James).

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