Review: Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber



Alyson Gerber


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.


I know I keep saying this but these middle-grade books have been tackling some tough subjects. They’re giving kids a way to see themselves or other kids their age in difficult situations. Being seen is an important part of being a healthy human being.

Taking Up Space deals with some tough subject matter that the author herself dealt with as a young teenager. The body changing and not feeling like you fit in your body anymore is relevant to puberty. Figuring out how to deal with it in terms of food can lead to eating disorders.

Besides the eating disorder that Sarah’s mom has throughout the book, there is another food issue that makes for a tough situation. That is food insecurity: “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” Even though Sarah’s family has money for the food that doesn’t mean that Sarah didn’t suffer from food insecurity. Her mom didn’t think to provide meals for Sarah which left Sarah unsure when she’d get feed. Even her friends who come over for sleepovers witness the lack of food available to eat. And again it wasn’t because of a lack of money that there wasn’t food for Sarah to eat but instead because Sarah’s mom suffered from her own eating disorder that she was projecting onto Sarah.

As much as this was a tough topic, this one has great potential to be a conversation starter between teenagers and adults on everything from puberty to eating disorders.

● food insecurity
● eating disorder
● body image
● puberty
● basketball
● #ownvoices

Audio book source: Hoopla
Narrator: Cassandra Morris
Length: 6H 09M


Amy Signature

•To see more reviews by Amy click here

Author: Foxy

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