Review: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

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Review for “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” by Mona Awad (2016)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book had been on my radar for a while but was never available at the library. When I finally spotted this on the “New Reads” shelf a couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to finally read it.

This novel is composed of interconnected short stories about Lizzie, an insecure young woman whom we follow from her teen years all the way to adulthood. Her life is marred by struggles with dieting, weight gain, weight loss, and body image. What is fascinating about this book is that the title is appropriately fitting, each of the 13 stories has a different perspective, or way of ‘looking’ at the main character: some by Lizzie herself, one by a boyfriend, yet another by her husband.

Mona Awad gives Lizzie one of the most honest voices that I’ve heard in a while. She never holds back and her thoughts were refreshingly honest while making me laugh out loud at the same time. I don’t think you have to be a woman, or even struggling with weight to take something away from this book. I felt her pain, particularly when it came to her need for acceptance from the world around her. There are no happy endings or ‘good’ characters, just real people on paper. I loved this.

This book isn’t perfect though. The first half documents Lizzie’s struggle with her weight, which was much more insightfully written than the second half, which focuses on Lizzie’s life after she loses weight. It’s still good stuff, but momentum is lost and second half doesn’t quite have the depth or the magic of the first. Do still read this, however. It’s powerful, engaging writing, and Mona Awad is a writer to watch!

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