Release Date: February 23, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Review Date: February 22, 2016
Rating: 3 bookmarks
Synopsis: Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl?
DISCLAIMER: This tile was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
What initially drew me to this book was first the title, then the subject matter. Body image and self hate is a very serious and real issue for a lot of girls and women. Like many women, it seems that me and my friends always seem to be on a diet, and are always criticizing ourselves about what we ate that day or what we don't like about our appearance. With that said, I do not want to get all preachy about the subject at hand but that is what made me want to read this book. I was anxious to see how the main character would deal with her body image issues and how outside forces contributed to her horrible sense of self.
While this linear story moved quickly, there was one essential thing that I thought was missing. I was unable to tell how much time had passed between each chapter. There were 13 chapters and each chapter reveals another way that Lizzie seems to see herself. Some times good, most times bad. The timing in regards to Lizzie's age is murky during most of the story. I couldn't consistently figure out how old Lizzie is during each part of her life. Two or three times, Awad throws us a bone and we get her age.
It's clear that in the beginning she's in high school, I'm assuming probably a junior or senior. At some point she's in college. Then at some point she's in her early twenties she's lost a lot of weight. Later on she's married and living that skinny life - you know, counting ever calorie, working out like a beast. Then suddenly issues with her mother arise that seem to throw a wrench in her plans and shake things up. Finally she's a divorcee and her world has changed again. Yet still, still after everything, she's consumed with working out, staying fit.
The book is essentially told from Lizzie's POV, with a chapter or two from one man or another. The chapters from the male POV are from the men in Lizzie's life romantically at one time. These chapters not only show that Lizzie's disrespect for herself is visible, but how she thinks about herself also contributes to how she allows them to treat her and think about her, it's all quite sad. Lizzie's relationship with her mother was pretty unfortunate as well, but I'm not going to get into that. You'll need to read the book to find out more.
When it was all said and done, while I think that the story is edgy and revealing, the ending was lack luster. I'm not sure what I was supposed to get out of it. I wanted to feel uplifted and I wanted all of the trials that Lizzie experienced to result in a better, stronger woman. I didn't get that feeling. I was left with a feeling of "meh".
The book was short, fast, and entertaining. If you like a dose of darkness blended with a side of reality with your drama, then you'll want to check this title out. If nothing else, Mona Awad has written a story that is thought provoking and will make you think about the problems of women at large. This would be a great read for a women's book club. I'm sure you'd get lots of discussion on the many things going on with Lizzie.
Mona Awad received her MFA in Fiction from Brown University. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Walrus, Joyland, Post Road, St. Petersburg Review, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English literature at the University of Denver.
Q&A with Mona Awad
Online Book Club Kit
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Good luck and happy reading,
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