This is Review #1 of my ongoing series of book reviews regarding health and weight-related books. I started this series just now, so that’s exciting. My plan is to go through and review fiction and non-fiction books related to weight, weight issues, body-positivity, etc. I’m a giant book nerd anyway (pun absolutely intended), and this blog now gives me an outlet to scream my reviews into the void. LEZ GO!
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad has been on my iPad’s iBook app for a while now. I had heard about it on… Goodreads, I think? I don’t know exactly how I first heard of it, but I’d vaguely tried reading it once, got through the first page and was like, nah, this is boring. I tend to react to things like that on a pretty much daily basis because my attention span isn’t great.
But, because of this book review series, I figured, what better way to start a book review for Fat Bitch, than a book that literally has “Fat Girl” in the title? Also, the front page claims this book is a “novel”, so I figured it wasn’t literally a 13-step guide to looking at fat girls. Anyways.
This is one of those books that makes me angry. Like, “what the fuck is going on, I hate this but I’m too far in to look away, what’s happening” angry. The first half of it read like a play-by-play of my life. The overweight, quirky girl with the pretty friends and the fat, dysfunctional mom. The fat girl that lets guys walk all over her, gives way too much of herself and her heart as sort of an apology for her weight. There’s a vignette about a boy who only calls her when he’s wasted, and only because she validates and cares for him more than the woman he’s actually dating, and with whom he’s actually willing to be seen in public.
There are several of these heartbreakingly familiar vignettes. The whole time it felt like I was looking in a mirror, but I also wanted to yell at that girl (me), you’re worth more than this! Don’t be treated like garbage because you feel like that’s all you’re wooorth! But then the book takes a weird turn. The girl loses her weight. She starts dating this guy, and it’s the catalyst she needs to drop, like, half her body weight.
And then the book turns into a giant shitshow. She’s a shell of her former self. Weight is literally all she can talk about, until she’s a sad, old, lonely, kinda skinny lady who has literally zero personality outside of her struggles with her weight. It’s almost like a very specific, pointed descent into madness. Her life is portrayed as this awful, boring, dreadful thing.
I’m guessing the author wanted to satirize those people for whom looks and weight are of the utmost importance, but it misses the mark. Her main character goes from being this dynamic, sad, interesting little weirdo to this Stepford Divorcee Gym Monster who judges everybody and herself incredibly harshly. Even my most athletic, skinny friends manage to have at least some personality outside of their weight. But not this girl. Also, there are parts of the book that are just downright creepy. If you read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Normal people can’t have these thoughts, right? Right? Ladies?
Needless to say, I give this book 6/10. I enjoyed the first half very much. It was so, so, devastatingly relatable. But in the second half I was like, nah girl you gotta get your groove back or something because right now you’re just a sad hot little mess.