Even though I thought I knew what was coming before I even began this book, I was appalled. Not by the writing, description or characterization but by the story itself.
Fatty Legs is the autobiography of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and how in less than two years, her longed for, dreamed about, wish to get a “real” education, was dashed to the point of making each day in her school a story of brute survival.
Margaret, born Olemaun Pokiak is Inuvialuit, an Inuit., one of the First Peoples of Canada. Born and raised on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean, all she really knew of school was that both her father and older half sister had gone when they were young. It meant living away from home in a boarding school dormitory. It also meant learning to read. If she went to school, Margaret would be able to read stories like the one “Rosie,” her sister read to her. It was a book about a girl named Alice who went down a rabbit hole and met a curious rabbit.
Reading meant everything to Margaret and though her father was reluctant to send her and her sister refused to talk about school, Margaret badgered her father until he gave in and let her go at age eight. That was the day her life turned upside down.
School was a nightmare of bullying not only by other students but, horribly, by her teachers as well. Fatty Legs is the tale of how Margaret learned not only to read but to stand up for herself and fight back. Although it’s hard to read about the abuse she suffered at the hands of the Catholic nuns—especially as I’m a product of 20 years of Catholic schooling—her strength and inner spirit make Margaret a strong and worthy heroine–and adversary.
Although not many middle school students would choose Fatty Legs for a school biography assignment, any who do may, like Margaret, have a life changing experience.
Posted by: Eileen