Tired of watching life from the sidelines, Baylee Kunkel wonders who she would be if she weren’t wearing the body of a fat girl. Although Baylee projects a confident version of herself, she is wildly insecure, judging herself and holding on to negative feelings about her body image. When it comes to the way she looks and the way she presents herself to the world, Baylee lives by a strict fashion code: She does not tuck her shirt into her pants and she does not knowingly accessorize with something that will accentuate her adipose tissue.

Yearning to be seen, to be wanted, and to be treasured for who she is, Baylee lives in her daydreams, crushing on guys and hoping to experience a connection. She envies fierce and sophisticated girls like Lara and Blake, girls “who walk around like the skin they’re in fits them in every way, like no one else’s attention or approval matters, like no makeover could ever improve them because they are already their best selves” (203).

In the midst of this dreaming, everything suddenly happens at once: Garrett, Freddie, and Alex all express an interest. At the same time, the coronavirus hits Toronto, Canada. With social distancing, what kind of connection can Baylee hope for and sustain?

As Baylee navigates these turbulent waters, the reader goes along for the ride in Then Everything Happens at Once. M-E Girard not only pens a tale of a girl who is into fashion and makeup but one who must learn self-acceptance. Through Girard’s characters, readers confront the knowledge that “No one loves everything about themselves. Doesn’t mean they can’t also believe they’re decent people. Everyone’s a work in progress” (400). We also recognize the value in talking to someone who is trained to help us better understand ourselves. A therapist isn’t just for those who are wealthy or “next-level messed up.”

  • Posted by Donna

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