13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad (and give-away of a book you’ll want to read)

13 Ways of Looking At A Fat Girl

The title was so startling to me, I wondered if I’d be able to read this book. But once I started it, I could not pull myself away. The images are so indelible, the portrait of Lizzie so impeccably drawn, that I’m glad the word FAT is in the process of being erased on the cover. For it isn’t wholly about looking at a fat girl; it’s about looking at what it means to be female without an occluded eye.

Can women ever do enough? Be enough? Even in our own eyes?  There’s the search for understanding our families, the search for meaningful employment, the search for a lasting relationship, the search for self-acceptance. I’m afraid that whatever I write will make this novel sound trite, and it is anything but that. I’m afraid that if I use the adjectives “raw” and “piercing” you’ll discount them for hearing them a thousand times before.

But I loved 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl for those things, for the way that it took heavy subjects (like self-fulfillment) and made me laugh, made me weep, made me think. It is a wonderful novel, an important novel, a novel that I’m sure you’ll want to read, no matter what your age.  Perhaps this quote expresses it better than I can:

“A painfully raw—and bitingly funny—debut . . . It’s too simple to say that this is a novel ‘about’ body image and self-hatred and the systemic oppression of women (though that wouldn’t be totally wrong); in [protagonist] Lizzie, Awad has created a character too vivid, too complicated, and too fundamentally human to be reduced to a single moral. Lizzie’s particular sadness is unsettlingly sharp: she gets under your skin, and she stays there. Beautifully constructed; a devastating novel but also a deeply empathetic one.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

The publishers at Penguin Random House are allowing one copy to be given away to a US resident, so please  leave your name if you would like to be considered for a copy of your own. I will pull a winner a week from today.

And now for the winner, chosen in an old-fashioned method of having a student draw a name out of a “hat”:

Jeanne of Necromancy Never Pays! Congratulations to Jeanne, and thank you to all who entered.

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20 comments

  1. I have to get this one….I am a fat girl and I have dealt with a lot of things, including people telling me that once they know me, they do not think of me as Fat …as if my body is left behind 🙂 I am naturally very very intrigued with the premises…I just hope Penguin eventually makes it available in India

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  2. This seems like a great book, and I have always been interested in the topic. It also reminded me of Caitlin Moran’s books 🙂 I wish I could take part in the giveaway 🙂

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  3. I’ve seen a couple of other reviews of this book and it looks intriguing. I like the idea of erasing the word ‘fat’. I know it’s just a word, but still….I’ll be on the lookout for this one.

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  4. I’m intrigued by the Wallace Stevens reference, and I read every novel I come across that purports to tell the story of what it means to be a fat woman in 20th or 21st century America.

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  5. Thank you for this wonderful review, Meredith. I cannot wait to grab the book. It sounds profound. I live in Chennai, so I cannot be considered for the giveaway. But, may I ask my sister in Texas to receive the book on my behalf? I am going to meet here soon. Was that a good pitch? 😉

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