13 Ways of Looking At A Fat Girl by Mona Awad
|13 Ways of Looking At A Fat Girl by Mona Awad|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: A look at what it's like to be fat, and not so fat, in a society obsessed with appearance, this is an honest and at times uncomfortable read|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: March 2016|
|Publisher: Penguin Books|
Liz is fat. Not just plump or chubby or, as my director often describes people, bubbly, but full on, capital F fat. It's perhaps one of the frustrations of this book that we never get a number, because she's clearly obsessed with what the scale shows, but won't share that reading.
This book is a series of short excepts from her life, 13 of them in fact, during which we follow her search for love, her rocky relationship with her (also large) mother, her unfulfilling work life and, ultimately, her weight loss. Because Liz (aka Beth, aka Elizabeth) is not permanently fat. She does shed some weight. We're not told precisely how fat, but one chapter she's looking at thinnies, wanting to be one of them, and the next she is looking at fatties, surrounding herself with them, picking out the manicurist specially because she's large and she's a reminder of what Liz never wants to be again.
Some things remain the same. Whatever her size, she is obsessed with food, and with male attention. She never seems that happy, like she got everything she ever wanted but, it turns out, she wanted all the wrong things. The book is marked as fiction but you get the impression it may be loosely based on, or inspired by, true life events. There are some observations that you just couldn't make unless they happened to you. I liked that aspect of it. It was very true to life, or my experience of it, and I found Liz easy to relate to. At the same time, this book depressed me. I know as someone sitting here balancing a robust gym habit with an avid appreciation of chocolate it's easy for me to say there's more to life than appearances, but for Liz there just isn't. She is a fat girl living a fat life, and although she's from a fat nation (the USA), she's clearly fatter than the average fatty for some of the chapters. And it is the only thing she thinks about.
There's a disparity between weight in the world, and it's odd. We tell thin people to their face to eat another sandwich, but wouldn't normally tell an obese person to stop stuffing themselves. But at the same time, it's ok to joke about being fat but one wouldn't make light of eating disorders, even though in some ways they are a lot more connected than one might think. Liz has a messed up relationship with food, with her body image and, at times, with life, and it reminded me of the likes of Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle and Clare B Dunkle, another personal struggle but of a slightly different sort.
I would recommend this book because it is interesting, it is different, and the short story format means it's easy to work through but also allows for natural breaks if you're pressed for time. That said, you need to be in the right mood for it as it's a bit of a downer at times. Contrary to popular belief, in this case fat does not equal jolly.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. If you like young, modern and short/snappy, My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler is also worth a look.
You can read more book reviews or buy 13 Ways of Looking At A Fat Girl by Mona Awad at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy 13 Ways of Looking At A Fat Girl by Mona Awad at Amazon.com.
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