Sunday, June 04, 2017

Does this book make me look fat?

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, by Mona Awad, is a breezy read that becomes profoundly sad the instant you step back from it.

The novel consists of 13 stories, each of which could stand independently, chronicling Elizabeth's life, from fat teen to gym-going, food-weighing, unhappy obsessive. She sheds a lot of weight, but loses friends, her mother, and her marriage along the way. She tries on new names along with new bodies, each new identity a new relationship with her body: Lizzie, Elizabeth, Beth, Liz. (And it's her husband's fault when he can't keep up with her preference.)

Many reviews stress how much more this book is about than body image: friendship, loneliness, a girl's relationship with her mother, blah, blah, blah, what it means to be human. Well, no. Everyone of those facets is firmly based in Lizzie's relationship to her body.

Awad doesn't make any overt social commentary; all the criticisms of Lizzie come from within herself, with the occasional boost from her mother. I hate to think that there are women out there who live like she does, but I don't doubt it's true. Also, I couldn't help but feel a twinge of guilt for not addressing weight loss more concertedly, and for being relatively happy.

These are tight, well-written stories. Go ahead, read them. No, I don't mean anything by that; you look great.

Globe and Mail
The Rumpus
Washington Post

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

One of the things I loved about these glimpses into her life was the rich sense of detail, the way that you fell into an era and really felt it before moving into the next.