Frannie and Tru - Karen Hattrup

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

There was much to this book that I enjoyed. There was relatively strong character development and there was a solid plot, exploring religion, sexuality, rebellion, acceptance, and other subjects along these lines. Though Frannie is the main subject of the book, the one whose eyes through whom readers see the world, Truman (or Tru) seems to be more the subject of the novel overall, as Frannie is seemingly obsessed with him and his reasons for becoming part of her family.

Frannie provides a relatively understandable narrative (at least emotionally), and her family's turmoil is definitely of interest, however there are incredibly problematic elements to the novel at the same time. Issues of sexuality and racial difference seem to be developed and examined to a much larger degree, and in a more sensitive way. However, the discussions of racial sensitivity and sexual difference do not outweigh the incredibly disrespectful moments of fat shaming. I was hoping that the sensitivity and nuance of other examinations within the text would also accompany discussions of weight, however this is not the case. One character is even said to have the physique of Jabba the Hutt (really?!) Unless you're actually talking about Jabba the Hutt, keep this sort of description of others to yourself!

I admire the initiative and the overall point of the novel, however the fat shaming aspects really pulled me out of the narrative and made me question why it always seems to be that there is one form of acceptance at the expense of another. For example, I love Sherman Alexie for so many reasons, but Part-Time Indian really makes my blood boil because so much about racial identity is enhanced at the expense of sexual minorities (there's a lot of homophobic humour used in that book!)

So, all in all, I think the novel is interesting, and one that should be read by more inquiring minds, but also one that should be Recommended with Reservations.

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