Review: ’13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl’ by Mona Awad

This was an ARC I was sent by the publisher, so it wasn’t something that was on my radar until it showed up in the mail. Considering that I’m currently on my own weight loss journey, it seemed rather fitting for me to get this book just before my first trip to the gym.

Synopsis: This book is a series of short stories following the life of a girl who happens to carry a few extra pounds. From highschool, to college, to marriage, her life is defined by her weight.

I’m torn about how I feel about 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl because I know that there must be people who can relate to Liz’s story, but I’m not one of them. Much of the content in this book centers around her romantic life and perpetuates the stereotype of the slutty fat girl. I get that she hates herself and is looking for any kind of positive association with her body, but I felt like her entire personality was hyper-sexualized. As someone who is and knows many people who are considered “fat”, it felt like the author missed the opportunity to provide readers with a true representation of what it feels like to be considered overweight in our society (ie. not all of us are willing to sleep with anyone who looks our way, or constantly trying to squeeze ourselves into outfits that are too small.)

My favourite part of this book is a character towards the end who truly cares for her as she is/was, and doesn’t find her obsession with dieting and fitness attractive at all. His relationship with her starts with shared interests, and they are friends way before they become anything more. He comes across as the most genuine and real of all the characters because of his life outside of the obsession with her body. Everyone other person in her life seems to have far more concern for her size than is realistic.

Overall, I think this is an interesting look at how society shapes our self perception, but I’m not exactly sure what the intended message is supposed to be. The title seems to indicate that there are many different ways to look at a person, but the stories inside repeat the same unhealthy stereotypes of fat people that we see all the time. Liz is obsessed with her weight, as are the majority of the people she interacts with. Her interests outside of dieting and fitness are hardly addressed, and in the end it felt like I was reading 13 stories about a fat girl’s obsession with losing weight.

LC rating: three-stars (good book, but not for me)



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