Lord of the Rings meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Duff in Laura Monster Crusher. This funny, fast-paced tale of middle-school monsters, self-image, and, oh yeah, actual monsters that want to kill everyone. Laura Ledwick is… well… large. The kids at school don’t let her forget it, and call her by various names: Laura Largebottom, Laura Lardo, Lots of Laura–you get the idea. When Laura’s family moves to the next town over before eighth grade, she expects more of the same. What she doesn’t expect are the snake-like yellow eyes watching her from the forest. Or the mysterious rattling in her closet. Or finally making real friends for the first time. Or handsome uber-nerd Liam R. Kelp, who might just be the cutest boy to ever wear a Science Is Cool T-shirt. But when Laura finally discovers the source of the rattling, things take on a whole new level of weird. It turns out Laura has just been given the most important job in the world: Monster Crusher. Her role is simple: protect the earth from the horrors beneath their feet. Eighth grade is about to get a lot more interesting.” – Goodreads
Laura Monster Crusher Review
I truly enjoyed reading Laura Monster Crusher. It’s got a lot of the classic elements that make it a story middle-graders can identify with. The teasing kids undergo for looking different, finding your talent and realizing you aren’t like everyone else. Figuring out that being brave can lead to making new friends, and that standing up your friends is important too. Learning that bullies have their own issues, and learning to work together with them. As I said, lots of relatable elements.
The author combines these into a story that mixes fantasy and contemporary easily. In this way it is much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Laura has to go to school, act completely normal and then come home and fight the forces of darkness. She does this with a loving family, which I think is fantastic. Her younger brother is sight-impaired, and even though it obviously affects him, he never lets it slow him down. Her parents are an odd couple, but you can tell they love their children without limits. To the point that they even moved, in part, to try to give Laura a new chance at school. However, even adults make mistakes, and one member of her family illustrates this clearly.
Laura Monster Crusher is touted as a ‘fat positive’ book. It does a good job of making Laura’s weight something that the readers don’t focus much on once it’s established its a problem. It shows that even though outsiders view her weight as a big deal (pardon the pun), to the people that matter, it doesn’t matter. Laura doesn’t need to lose weight or fit a beauty template before she can make friends and even have a boy’s affections possibly returned. However, as time goes on and Laura exercises more, we do notice a positive change to her body. I’m glad this was included. No one should be shamed for being fat, but healthy habits like exercising should be noticed and cheered on. I liked that she didn’t shame herself, and we need more books with atypical heroines. Laura is brave, strong, stubborn and intelligent.
Overall, this was a great middle-grade read and I’d definitely highly recommend it for several reasons.