This book was absolutely nothing that I expected it to be. I bought it when I was stress browsing on Book Outlet for new, interesting reads and the title, synopsis and cover instantly caught my eye. Not to mention, Roxane gay gave this book 4 stars and said it was wonderful.
Add to cart, no brainer.
For some reason, I interpreted the synopsis as a young adult coming of age story about a girl from a small town dealing with being a fat girl in a society that consistently dehumanizes fat people. Close, but not exactly.
About the Book
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?
The reading experience for this one was nothing like I expected, and honestly took me a little while to get used to. For the first 65 pages or so, I really didn’t enjoy this book and thought I’d be retiring it to my “donate” pile. But the one thing that kept me turning pages was our main character, Lizzie. She was relatable in so many ways, and even when her methods and choices drove me crazy, I felt for her and wanted to keep getting to know her.
Each chapter reads almost like a short story, where we meet new side characters but always focus on Lizzie (Or Liz, Beth or Elizabeth depending on where in her life and weight journey we are). The book starts with Lizzie in her teenage years, dealing with being an overweight teenager in high school. We end with her well into adulthood, still having weight struggles, but of a different kind.
I think that everyone, regardless of your weight, will be able to see a bit of themselves in Lizzie. How she compares herself to her thin friends, how she assumes what people will think of her based on her own insecurities, how she feels worthy of good things because of the fact of her body. We’ve all been there, in some form or another.
This book is so much more than the story of a girl and her relationship to her body, which I appreciated. Later chapters delve deeper into Lizzie’s relationship with her mother and her husbands and those were some of the most interesting point of views to read. You could tell that this wasn’t going to be a book that tried to force the “grass is always greener, so love yourself at any size” troupe. It simply wanted to show the real struggles of someone trying to fit in to places where she literally and figuratively does not. And it definitely accomplished that mission.
This book made me laugh at some parts and tear up at others. It’s a pretty fast read, and I honestly think it could stand to be a bit longer to further explore some areas deeper. I ended up giving this book a 3.5 stars, and would definitely recommend it to those of you interested in this type of fiction or the topic of women’s bodies.
If you were a fan of Hunger by Roxane Gay (which you should be), I think you’d enjoy this book, too!