Be Marvelous: A Review of The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen

The Big Reveal
by Jen Larsen
Henry Holt and Co.
December 7, 2021
Ages 14+

All high-school senior Addie Grant wants to do is dance, and when she is accepted to her dream dance program in Milan, it seems like all her dreams are coming true. The world comes crashing down around her when she learns that while she was accepted; she did not win the scholarship, and raising the $6,000 she needed to attend feels like an impossible goal. With the help of her friends, Addie hatches a plan: to put on an underground invite-only burlesque show to raise the money. Ticket prices are calculated, names and costumes are chosen, dance routines are choreographed, and spirits are high. But when word gets out, Addie and her friends are faced not with excitement but with slut-shaming, body-shaming, and a sexist administration. At the end of it all, though they may not have gotten what they set out for, the determination and perseverance of Addie and her friends pays off in the way of self-realization and confidence, surprise dance school admissions, and the creation of the Adeleina Elizabeth Grant Dance Scholarship Fund.

“Don’t shape yourself to fit the world. Make the world shape itself to fit you,” is the mantra that Larsen weaves throughout this love letter to body positivity and modern feminism (pg. 573). Featuring a plus-sized protagonist and an LGBTQIA+ multiracial supporting cast, Larsen creates an inclusive narrative that does not shy away from the reality of sexism, fatphobia, ableism, and homophobia while still providing likable characters and a satisfying ending. Written in simple, casual prose interspersed with relevant colloquial phrases, detailed metaphors, and quippy humor, Larsen’s story is an honest and straightforward look at issues of body narratives and sexuality. Reminiscent of Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, The Big Reveal is a celebration of counterculture, and encourages readers to embrace everything they are, regardless of what other people may think.*

* Reviewed from an Advanced Readers’ Copy