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

This book came across my desk for review a couple of months ago and initially I passed on it for review and agreed to do a special feature instead.

I wasn’t sure that I could fit it into my review schedule and I wasn’t sure it was something that I really wanted to read. However when I did the special feature, I completely rethought my decision!

After reading the discussion questions of the feature, I was intrigued. This book sounded like it was going to be raw, honest, and dark but yet poignant and meaningful. This book was all of these things and more!

This book is set up with 13 different chapters, each of which reads like a short story. Initially I thought that each chapter was a short story about different women, but it was short stories about one main character, Lizzie (AKA Beth, Liz, Elizabeth).

Lizzie has never liked the way she looked. She has struggled with low self esteem and body images as well as a host of other issues when it comes to her weight. Each chapter addresses different aspects of her weight struggles. In some chapters she dates men online and trying to feel accepted by friends and boys, while others are a little more humorous such as when she talks about counting her almonds while trying to diet.

For me, this book was much more sad than funny. Lizzie has a very honest voice and I loved that about this book. I never felt like she was trying to hold anything back or manipulate the situation for the readers benefit and comfort. This was a book that was completely honest about the struggles of women. While I wasn’t always able to relate to Lizzie, I think that her experiences were so honest that I felt her pain and struggles acutely.

I personally liked the parts of the book about her struggles with weight and body image which took up the first half of the book. The second half was about her weight loss and for me the first half was much more raw and sad. I thought many times ‘finally, someone who is willing to address the pressures that women/girls feel about their bodies’ but then the second half didn’t quite do that for me as the first half did.

That said, the writing is still powerful and engaging, I just felt like the first half was much more strong and alluring to readers. The first ‘story’ really hooked me and I hoped that each chapter would follow a similar pattern. And thought they didn’t always follow the same structure, each ‘story’ was important and advanced the plot in some way.

I liked that this book made me slightly uncomfortable as a reader. The whole time all I could think of was ‘somewhere out there, there is a girl going through this exact situation’ and it made me so sad. I think almost all women can relate in some way with the struggles of body image and the demands of society. This is a raw, honest look at society and body image and it definitely makes the reader uncomfortable but it’s so hard to ignore the blatant honesty in the pages.

This story didn’t have a conventional plot, climax, and resolution that many readers might expect. It didn’t have likable characters or a happy ending either but I felt satisfied with how the book ended. It gave me a lot to think about and digest long after it ended. I like book that make me sit up and think and hit me with a raw honest voice. This book did just that, not to mention it read quick so I didn’t feel trapped in the story. I was able to finish it and continue to think about things and issues raised by Lizzie.

This is not the kind of book that I normally read but when I find books like this I think they are hidden gems in the literary world!

Challenge/Book Summary:

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

  • Kindle Edition, 224 pages
    Published February 23rd 2016 by Penguin Books
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 4 out of 5

Genre: womens fiction, short stories, contempo lit

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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