Big and Fabulous

The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles

Fiction - Humor/Comedy
282 Pages
Reviewed on 01/23/2017
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Author Biography

Author, Randi Sherman’s experience as a stand-up comedienne is evident as one reviewer describers her as a “frighteningly perceptive, funny and powerful woman,” and another says, “ …readers will be kept reading and laughing throughout.”
A native Californian, Sherman lives in the wine country. She sings show tunes in the car, is a fantastic cocktail party guest and has never met a passed hors h'oevuvre she didn't like.

    Book Review

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.

Tracy Slowiak

In a fun and funny new work by author Randi M. Sherman, Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles, readers will be kept reading and laughing throughout. Follow the story of spunky Brenda as she winds her way through a world that still seems to find it acceptable to discriminate against big people, while she is determined to live a fabulous life on her own terms, unafraid of what others think of her or her size. The story takes readers from her childhood, the awkwardness of her adolescence, and finally into her adulthood, where she is determined to triumph even while some of the figures in her life seem determined to keep her in the shadows. Will Brenda Cankles be victorious? You’ll need to read the book to find out!

I so enjoyed Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles. Author Randi M. Sherman has done a fantastic job of creating characters, especially her protagonist, Brenda Cankles, that are realistic and engaging, and that her readers will be able to relate to and will truly come to care about. If that isn’t a hallmark of a great author, I’m not sure what is. This novel is full of warmth and humor, and many people will easily be able to relate to the material. For those who have never been shunned because of weight or for some other reason, this book might give them pause for thought, but in a good and funny way. Any reader who enjoys humorous works of fiction, or who is looking for a well written and fun work of fiction in general, should absolutely read this book. I am very pleased to be able to give Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles my highest recommendation, and I look forward to reading more from the very talented author, Randi M. Sherman, as soon as I possibly can!

Gisela Dixon

Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles by Randi M Sherman is about a plus-sized woman named Brenda, written in the first person. Big & Fabulous starts off with an introduction to Brenda, by Brenda herself. We also learn about her family and her childhood and teenage experiences as she grows into adulthood. Being a plus-sized woman, Brenda is automatically judged by society for her size, but in spite of this, Brenda is able to maintain a healthy self-esteem and positive self-image. This story continues as we hear about the men she dates, her life experiences, and her challenges as well as her triumphs as she fights against people’s and society’s perception about overweight people, and overweight women in particular.

Big & Fabulous: The Life and Times of Brenda Cankles by Randi M Sherman sends a great message to people, and especially women, that one’s weight or looks for that matter should not dictate one’s self-esteem and self-regard. Brenda’s character is portrayed well as a normal, kind, caring individual who treats people well and expects the same in return without judgement. Although I liked the plot of the story and the powerful message it sends about body shaming, the quality of the writing itself felt a bit flat to me. That being said, Brenda still comes across as a lovable and nice person who just wants the best for everyone and I found myself rooting for her. Overall, I would recommend this book due to the inherent plot and story itself.