I’m not on the bandwagon

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review.

Every once in a while, I read a book that others have raved about and feel nothing.

Which makes it kind of difficult to write anything about said book.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad is about Lizzie, or Liz or Beth or Elizabeth, depending on which chapter you are reading. Lizzie is a fat girl and struggles with body image her whole life, even when she becomes obsessive about what she eats and doesn’t eat, how much she exercises and what clothes she can wear. Her entire life becomes consumed by this identity of once being a fat girl.

I liked that each chapter took on a different aspect of Lizzie’s life or was told from the perspective of someone else in Lizzie’s life. Awad is a sharp writer who really understands her characters and how they interact.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t anything to relate to in this book because for most women, I think there is. No matter how hard Lizzie works, no matter what her outside looks like, she will still always feel like the fat girl.

I’m not sure what my issue with this book was. Lizzie is bitter and sad and lonely even when she’s surrounded by friends. She has a mother who adores her, a husband who accepted her and loved her before she lost all the weight. She is incapable of being friends with other women, constantly comparing herself to them, assuming they are making judgements about her. In one chapter she requests the nail technician by name only because this girl is fat and Lizzie lets herself feel superior while the girl works.

I understand Lizzie’s hurt and anger towards a world that refused to accept her as she was as a fat girl. I can see how she was swallowed up by her fears of gaining the weight back again, how she viewed all women as competition but I had such a hard time getting through the 212 pages of this book. I don’t want to dismiss this experience and I don’t want to say I was turned off by her bitterness but this book didn’t do it for me.

I know that’s not the case for everyone – you only have to spend a few minutes on Goodreads to see the strong ratings this book is getting. Just not from me.

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9 thoughts on “I’m not on the bandwagon

  1. Interesting critique of this book. It’s nice that you also found the positive in a book you weren’t generally crazy about. Sometimes that’s difficult. Well, at least in my case. I haven’t read “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” yet, but it’s been on my TBR for a little while.

    • Thanks! It’s harder to write a post about a book that you’re ambivalent about than a book that you completely hated. And generally, I feel bad about tearing apart books because really, who am I to say? What books have I written recently?

  2. Carolyn (at Rosemary and Reading Glasses) was turned off by the fact that “fat” seemed to be code for “miserable”. She says: “Personally, I wanted to shake the book and yell “It’s possible to be both fat and happy!”” It sounds like maybe you had the same problem? Obviously her weight is not really her issue, even though it sounds like that’s what the book is about.
    Good review of a book that you’re not on board with (which we all know is so hard to do!).

  3. I would probably feel the same about the book. Too much angst for an escape read and not much in the way of literary merit. My book snobbery is showing again. Thanks for providing an honest review.

  4. i love an honest review. Thank you. You’re right, people love this book, and yet I just can’t be persuaded to read it. Now I’m glad I’ve gone with my gut.

  5. Pingback: A gift from the library: Dietland | The Paperback Princess

  6. Pingback: Shadow Giller: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad – Consumed by Ink

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