30 July 2016

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl - Mona Awad

This is going to be a brief review.

This is a collection of 13 short stories about Elizabeth / Lizzy / Beth, a girl growing up in Mississauga Ontario who struggles with her weight.  She is overweight as a teenager as well as seemingly struggling with depression.  She grows up, gets skinny, gets married, gets divorced, gains some of the weight back.  The end.

Most of the stories are told from Elizabeth's perspective, though a few are told from the perspective of people who know her.  But there is no external narrator to the stories to give a seemingly-objective version of the events.  I think that this technique worked well up to a point, showing that there is no such thing as an objective viewpoint to anything - we are always influenced by our background and experiences, whether we are judging ourselves or others.  But I did get frustrated in that I felt like I never really got to know Elizabeth.

I was also frustrated by the fact that Elizabeth was only ever defined by her weight.  Aside from her weight, as a reader I felt like I knew nothing else about her.  As someone who weighs more than I would like to, I don't let this be the defining factor of who I am.  I kept hoping to get to know Elizabeth outside of her weight, but finished the book without getting to that point.

It was a fast read for me, but it is not a book that I will be re-reading.

Question:  I was reading this book around my family last weekend and they were scandalized by the title.  I don't see anything scandalous about it.  Can anyone enlighten me about what offended them?

(Book 4 of 13 in The Canadian Book Challenge at The Book Mine Set)

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