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Author Alyson Gerber’s timely novel about disordered eating
Alyson Gerber Alyson Gerber
New York, NY
Friday, May 14, 2021

Alyson Gerber
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This May, critically acclaimed #ownvoices author Alyson Gerber will publish her new novel, TAKING UP SPACE (Scholastic; May 18, 2021; Hardcover; $17.99; Ebook: $10.99). Described by Booklist as a "highly empathetic" and "truly inspiring" writer, Gerber has written a realistic and compelling novel based on her own experiences with disordered eating.

With TAKING UP SPACE, Gerber is changing the narrative around self-worth, body image, and food for the next generation. After a year of restrictions and lockdowns, disordered eating is on the rise, and it's more important than ever to deepen our understanding of food trauma. Half of all American kids want to be thinner and more than half feel better when they're restricting food. This isn't just a problem in the U.S. It's happening to a lot of kids around the world and studies show these numbers keep increasing. There is so much shame and secrecy in struggling with food and body image. With TAKING UP SPACE, Alyson brings these challenges out into the open. Especially now, with Mental Health Awareness month and Children's Mental Health Awareness week fast approaching in May, it is vital to make more space for these conversations and stories -- our health depends on it.

TAKING UP SPACE is a story about discovering your power, learning to question diet culture, and finding the courage to take up space in the world. A poignant affirmation to young people that regardless of their shape or size, they deserve to be loved, and to love themselves. TAKING UP SPACE is also a tool for parents to start talking to their kids about food, body image, and self-worth, and is a must-have addition for middle school libraries everywhere.

In the novel, Gerber tells the story of Sarah, who loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it's the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her. But lately Sarah can't even play basketball right. She's slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn't feel like it's her own anymore. She's worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what's happening.

When Sarah's crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She'll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn't need to change to feel good about herself.

About Alyson Gerber
Alyson Gerber is the author of the critically-acclaimed, own-voices novels BRACED and FOCUSED published by Scholastic. Her third novel TAKING UP SPACE will be in stores on May 18, 2021. She has an MFA from The New School in Writing for Children and lives in New York City with her family.
TAKING UP SPACE, BRACED, and FOCUSED are all Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections. BRACED also received three starred reviews and has been nominated for state book awards in Oklahoma, Indiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, South Dakota, and Georgia. Alyson's second novel, FOCUSED, received three starred reviews, was picked as a best book of year by The Today Show, Kirkus Reviews, and A Mighty Girl, and has been nominated for state book awards in Rhode Island, Oklahoma, and Michigan. Her latest novel, TAKING UP SPACE, based on her experience with disordered eating, will help readers recognize how much they matter and see that if something negative is taking up space in their minds, even if there isn't a name for it, they should ask for help.

Alyson is available for interviews! Here are just some of the topics she can discuss:

  • In her writing, Alyson pulls from her own lived experiences to write poignant novels for middle grade readers and young adults. She can discuss how she balances writing fiction with sharing what she has learned from her personal experiences with disordered eating, ADHD, and scoliosis.
  • Alyson was a ballet dancer when she was 12, and in TAKING UP SPACE, Sarah is a basketball player who truly loves the game. Alyson can discuss how being part of a ballet group or basketball team can both strain and strengthen struggles with body image and how to cope with those struggles.


  • Among the many lessons readers can take away from reading TAKING UP SPACE, one of the most essential is the importance of teamwork and friendship. Sarah relies on her friends to help her when she can't necessarily turn to her parents. Alyson can discuss what pointers she has for helping and supporting friends the way Sarah's support her.


  • Alyson is a popular speaker at elementary and middle-schools. She can talk about how she relates so well to a young audience and what advice she gives that students find most surprising.
  • Learning how to cook is an important part of Sarah's growth in TAKING UP SPACE. At times it's freeing, but sometimes it's also challenging. Alyson can discuss how owning your ability to choose what you eat and realizing there is no such thing as "bad" foods, as Sarah comes to realize, is an important step towards maintaining a healthy body image.


  • May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  Even though disordered eating isn't officially classified as a mental health diagnosis, that should in no way make it any less important to address issues people may have with food. Alyson can discuss how important it is to listen to yourself and ask for help.


  • Alyson believes it is essential to speak one's truth and she teaches her daughter and students around the world that on a daily basis.  She can give readers tips on how they can open up about what they are struggling with and reach out for help if they need it. She can also speak to parents about why it's so important for kids to be able to express their struggles and give tips on how they can make space for kids to be seen, heard, and validated.

Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber Scholastic, May 18, 2021; Hardcover

ISBN: 978-1-338-18600-0; 272 pages; $17.99; Ebook: $10.99, 9781338186024; Also available in audio

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Elena Stokes
Title: Director of Publicity
Group: Wunderkind PR, Inc.
Dateline: VALLEY COTTAGE, NY United States
Direct Phone: 917-887-0784
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