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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles is a contemporary humor novel written by Randi M. Sherman. Between the mountains of cigarettes and gallons of cheap booze they consumed, Brenda's parents weren't really up to snuff on how to best raise their three daughters, and they weren't really all that concerned about their shortcomings in that department. Life was to be lived, and they did just that. Brenda and her sisters experienced, in many respects, a charmed childhood as far as most kids would consider their situation. Florence Cankles was no disciplinarian, and she steered clear of any teachers and guidance counselors who might have wanted to discuss her daughters' performances in school. That said, the three of them did all right for themselves. Brenda, the middle child, had it worst, as middle children often do. Hers was the dreaded hump position on the back seat of the car with threats of pain keeping her rigidly in position between her two tormentors. Brenda was also a big girl, alienated and somewhat awkward, and her mother would often tell her that she would have to be grateful for any attention or love cast her way because of her size and ungainliness.
Then a chance performance of Cinderella at her school dramatically changed her outlook on life and her prospects. She was seven at the time, and the performers seemed like the real thing to her -- real Prince Charming, real Cinderella. After a riveting performance, she was stunned when Prince Charming knelt down before her and kissed her hand. When the Fairy Godmother interrupted her moment, Brenda was annoyed, if one can ever be annoyed with a fairy godmother. This one assured Brenda that she was special, magical, and would be either a princess or a superhero. Which one would depend on Brenda.
Randi M Sherman's contemporary novel, Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles, is a rollicking and joyful look at a big girl who decides that her destiny is to be fabulous. Once I started reading Brenda's story, I couldn't stop -- I didn't want to miss a thing this frighteningly perceptive, funny and powerful woman had to share. I especially loved the holiday tales and the descriptions of her job at Frisch's Delicious, a Kosher deli whose owners become the real, caring parents she had wanted for so long. Brenda is a superstar who can do just about anything she sets her mind to, and it's quite inspirational. She even, somehow, makes a career based on a degree in Art History -- a tremendous feat in itself. And Brenda’s romantic adventures are a joy to read about. Big & Fabulous is one of those rare books that makes you smile as you're reading, and then sigh a bit as you turn the last page. I loved getting to know Brenda Merle Cankles, and I'm thinking she's definitely one of the most interesting -- and fabulous -- characters I've encountered, both in fiction and real life. Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles is most highly recommended.