Big Girl: Book summary and reviews of Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Big Girl

A Novel

by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan X
Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Exquisitely compassionate and witty, Big Girl traces the intergenerational hungers and desires of Black womanhood, as told through the unforgettable voice of Malaya Clondon.

In her highly anticipated debut novel, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan explores the perils―and undeniable beauty―of insatiable longing.

Growing up in a rapidly changing Harlem, eight-year-old Malaya hates when her mother drags her to Weight Watchers meetings; she'd rather paint alone in her bedroom or enjoy forbidden street foods with her father. For Malaya, the pressures of her predominantly white Upper East Side prep school are relentless, as are the expectations passed down from her painfully proper mother and sharp-tongued grandmother. As she comes of age in the 1990s, she finds solace in the music of Biggie Smalls and Aaliyah, but her weight continues to climb―until a family tragedy forces her to face the source of her hunger, ultimately shattering her inherited stigmas surrounding women's bodies, and embracing her own desire. Written with vibrant lyricism shot through with tenderness, Big Girl announces Sullivan as an urgent and vital voice in contemporary fiction.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sullivan charms in her stunning debut novel about a Black girl's coming-of-age...All of Sullivan's characters—even the cruel ones—brim with humanity, and the author shines when conveying the details of Malaya's comforts...This is a treasure." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Sullivan writes with tenderness and uses the language of poetry to communicate her protagonist's inner life...A lyrical and important coming-of-age novel." - Kirkus Reviews

"There are three books on earth that I would give anything to be able to write and reread until the suns burns us up. Big Girl is one of those books. The sound, the expansiveness of the whispers, the critical, brilliant, sometimes bruising, beautiful Black girlness explored in this novel is literally second to none…I know I have just read and reread a new American classic that we as a culture and country desperately need. Believe that." - Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir

"Mecca Jamilah Sullivan gives voice to girls and women with unruly bodies who dare to take up space in a world that shames them for being hungry for more. Alive with delicious prose and the cacophony of '90s Harlem, Big Girl gifts us a heroine carrying the weight of worn out ideas who dares to defy the compulsion to shrink, and in turn teaches us to pursue our fullest, most desirous selves without shame. Big Girl is a tender and sumptuous offering of beauty." - Janet Mock, author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty

"Mecca Jamilah Sullivan has given us a gift as big, beautiful and complicated as living itself, filled with everyday people who in her gifted hands, show us the love and struggle of what it means to be inside bodies that don't always fit with the outside world. I found myself cheering for Percy, Nyela, the Harlem streets and of course, for Malaya. Lovely." - Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone

This information about Big Girl was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is an associate professor of English at Georgetown University, and the author of Blue Talk and Love, winner of the Judith A. Markowitz Award from Lambda Literary. A native of Harlem, she lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more YA literary fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    by Clare Pooley
    For the many years that I've been reading, one realization has always come to mind for me after ...
  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Hamnet
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard

    Master storyteller Louis Bayard delivers a surprising portrait of a young Jackie Kennedy as we've never seen her before.

  • Book Jacket

    One's Company
    by Ashley Hutson

    For readers of Ottessa Moshfegh this fearless debut chronicles one woman's escape into a world of obsessive imagination.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.