Crystal Maldonado

Crystal Maldonado’s award-winning debut novel “Fat Chance, Charlie Vega” fosters love for one’s self and body

Body positivity is at the heart of Associate Director of News Content Crystal Maldonado’s debut, coming-of-age young adult novel, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, a book that explores what it means to grow up female, fat and Puerto Rican. “In many ways, Charlie’s story is a heavily fictionalized version of my own,” says Maldonado, who wrote her story of a 16-year-old navigating love for others and herself over the course of two years. “For better or worse, her story feels deeply personal—her relationship with her body, her struggles with her mom, her joy, her love story, and her growth.”

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega has been Maldonado’s chance to help others feel seen in ways she herself missed growing up, particularly with embracing one’s authentic self. “I’m deeply invested in trying to do my part to help make people feel represented, and that’s really what this was,” she explains. “I didn’t feel like I saw enough complex, nuanced depictions of fat girls and wanted to do what I could to help change that.” The book has received numerous accolades and awards, including the 2021 New England Book Award, and Maldonado was included on the list of BusinessWest’s “40 under 40.” Learn more.