One to Watch
By: Kate Stayman-London
Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers–and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, 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?
Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition–under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She’s in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That’s it.
But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She’s in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture 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. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men–and herself–for a chance to live happily ever after.
I’ve got some thoughts about One to Watch. First, I want to say I did enjoy the book, but I’m leaning toward not giving it above a three-star. Second, I cried a fair amount while reading this book. Probably more than your average reader. I’m a crier, but this also hit some body image issues I have so fair warning.
Bea is a plus-sized fashion influencer. Initially, she comes off as very confident and sure of herself, but that is completely obliterated once the story starts. She’s spent a significant portion of her adult years obsessed with a man that ends up using her. At first, I wasn’t sure if he was using her or if she saw more into things. Then, when things are cleared up, I end up being less sympathetic to Bea. That all happens pretty early on, so she had an uphill battle for me.
I’ve never watched the Bachelor or any show like it. I’m aware of them. I know the general premise. It’s just not the type of show that appeals to me. That being said, if it’s like what this book is and if I had people to watch it with, people like the book shows through snippets, I could see myself getting into it. Potentially.
The decisions made by the show regarding dates and men seemed pretty realistic, especially their rating obsessed decisions. My main problem there was that Bea was always so forgiving to the producer. Forgiving is the wrong word. Bea seemed to be acting like Lauren was her friend a lot of the time. There was no reason why Bea should have acted that way. By the end, it seemed like the author was setting it up for the sequel to be about Lauren. Not a fan.
I will say that I had a hard time figuring out who Bea would wind up with. It was obvious who she wasn’t going to end up with, but the other side was harder to figure out. Mainly because the author was going out of her way to make it that way. Bea would have misgivings about someone but still pursue them, and then their issue would be revealed. It should have been obvious who she would wind up with, but she had pangs of uncertainty and trouble believing everyone.
I found the ending to be a little underwhelming. I’m assuming if this had been a reality show, I would have been thoroughly entertained, but I was just glad of the way the author wrote it because it minimized the awkwardness. Obviously, Bea ended up with one of the men. She had a connection with him, but because of the format of the show, she barely spent any time with him. She had connections with multiple men to the point where I wondered if she would choose more than one. I hate love triangles, so I would have enjoyed it more if it went that way.
I guess my issue with the book is that the reality show format is not something that appeals to me. My main focus when picking this book up was that it had a plus-sized heroine front and center. Maybe if there had been more romance and had less time having Bea doubt herself and men being absolute horrors to her, I would have enjoyed it more. I don’t know. Once again, I felt like the blurb promised me one thing, but the book gave me something else entirely.
My feelings for the book are complicated. I had no issues with the writing style. I really enjoyed the bits in between from social media. Loved the inclusion of Chris Evans. I ended up not being a fan of a lot of significant parts, though. After writing this review, I’m not even sure I enjoyed it anymore. I’m bummed now.