Author: Kate Stayman-London
Narrator: Kristen Sieh
Audiobook Length: 12 hours
Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger with amazing friends, thousands of Insta followers – and a massively broken heart. Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?
Although Bea has sworn off men altogether, when Main Squeeze asks her to be its next star, she agrees on one condition: under no circumstances will she actually fall in love.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea finds herself in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Twitter wars, sexy suitors and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men – and herself – for a chance at her own happily ever after.
One to Watch had incredible potential, but it seriously missed the mark for me. Although I’ve never actually watched an episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette, but I love the general concept and was excited to have a plus-size girl featured, especially when all 25 suitors were fairly fit men. When I walk down the street and just observe, I see tons of plus-size men with thinner women, but it is an extreme rarity to see the opposite (it just be where I live in California). To have a potential “happy ending” for this plus-size girl that struggled in love was a concept that I felt could be incredibly heart-warming and hopeful to those that might be discouraged in a similar situation.
Bea Schumacher is a plus-size (US size 20) fashion blogger. She obviously knows clothes and accessories and how to put them all together on a person that’s not a size zero. Like the synopsis states, she live-tweets and posts a follow-up rant about the lack of plus-size people on the Bachelor-like show, Main Squeeze. The producers reach out and she becomes the next star with 25 guys vying for her attention. Now based on the synopsis, this character seems that she would be extremely confident in presenting herself in a public forum, given that she had thousands of followers. This was lost on me when she started to discuss why it was okay for her to post bikini photos of herself, but not where one on tv. She started going on with the angles, lighting, etc. and, to me, this lost me as it makes it seem that she was only confident to show off her body in a bikini based on an altered version of herself and did not wish to show the reality as live tv sees all flaws. I am perfectly fine with her having insecurity or the fact that she’s not confident all the time, so it seems it came down to word choices as it’s written as contradictory to the character where it was, most likely, just trying to be relatable.
This bring me to the writing itself as this occurred almost the whole way through where it seemed my issues did not lie with the character, but instead of the author’s choices for how the information came across. One interesting thing that came about was the character needing a seatbelt extender on a plane, but somehow was able to not have any issues with fit (or a fear of fit) for rides at Disneyland. As someone who has ranged in size from US size 8 to US size 24, there is always this fear for fitting on rides at theme parks, so it seemed very odd that this was just glossed over. I feel that if you’re going to make a point about airplanes, which are rarely comfortable for any plus-size or even just tall person, then it seemed inconsistent to not place the same care with the other places these same people have potential issues.
I loved that the book was divided into episodes rather than traditional chapters, which helps the reader follow along as if they were a viewer. The addition of the mixed media was also nice as there were blog and podcast reviews that discussed the episodes. Some of those were really positive and others were extremely negative and could be potentially triggering to plus-size individuals. For me, I’ve heard almost every single negative that was mentioned and it does not bother me, but I know others who take it more to heart, so it is one thing that should be included in some way to let other readers know. I found the inclusion of both types of reviews for Bea’s presence on the show to be very realistic because there will be those that love you and those that hate you, so I appreciate the author including both.
The men in this novel were okay, but there was nothing that stood out for me for any of them. A lot of them followed stereotypes, whether it was intentional or not, so it was hard to fully root for any of them. There is a love interest outside the show that is featured in Bea’s life and I honestly tried my best to figure out what Bea saw in him in the first place aside from him paying somewhat attention to her. Again, from the synopsis, I did not think this would be the case as it was very hard to believe that someone in Los Angeles, who has a high social media presence, would not have other suitors at least available to play a part in her life. I could have missed a lot as, sure, there were bad dates, but it was difficult to believe there were no other good ones in there or any potential ones that she came across. Early on in the story, Bea and Ray sleep together and Bea is perfectly fine with this, even though Ray is engaged to someone else. I think I needed more about why Bea was so hung up on this guy from their time in college, as I just could not see it.
Overall, I great appreciate what this story was trying to do and I absolutely love a plus-size lead, but it just fell short in its delivery, for me. I know tons and tons of people that read this and rave about it, so take my opinion with a grain of salt and give the novel a try, if you’re curious to read it. Bea’s fluctuation in her self-confidence was very relatable and I liked that she was vocal about her comfort levels when it came to either the discussions she had or the scenarios she had to participate in. The show itself was done very realistically as people on the Bachelor are known to be catty with others being sweet and there are a lot of twists and turns as viewers watch all the drama unfold. For me, the final men and ending were fairly predictable as there are hints along the way, but it was still fun to see who would get eliminated each “episode.” All in all, there were many things that were relatable and likeable in this story, but, as a whole, it just did not work for me.