How do you review books that are basically someone else’s life narrative? Fat Girl Walking is Brittany Gibbon’s story, and her owning her story. I respect that, and feel no desire to take it to task. In fact, the writing is crisp and the humor sarcastic. There is little I can point to as flawed other than a few instances of casual ableism.
I just didn’t like it. And since I rate by the Goodreads system, that means this book gets a single star.
Perhaps my problem is Fat Girl Walking often reads as the “blog book” that it is. I don’t mean that disparagingly. I have toyed with the notion of putting my blog posts together and publishing a narrative collection of them, even though none of my blogs have been particularly popular. Only I wasn’t expecting a blog book. My extreme paranoia of spoilers keeps me from reading reviews or publisher’s notes before I read a book, and I really know almost nothing anymore about what is “hot” in the blogosphere (is that even still a word?). Instead I was expecting more along the lines of Hanne Blank’s Big Big Love or Marilyn Wann’s Fat! So?
Fat Girl Walking, on the other hand, is 35% disjointed short entries about childhood that move back and forth in time, 45% narrative about being a young adult and new mom in America, and 20% body positive guidance. It’s not unapologetic Fat Acceptance Movement stuff, but hopefully helpful to people who relate to Gibbons’ experiences.
The thing is, I should have related to Gibbons’ narrative. I had an unconventional childhood, I failed college the first time around by way of mental illness, I write and blog, I’m fat, and I’m married. But I didn’t relate to it. Partly because (obviously) not all fat people are the same. I suspect the crux is where Gibbons’ experience is that where “people treat [her] like a sexy and confident curvy woman because [she acts] like a sexy and confident curvy woman” my experience of being confident led to people only being louder in their cruelty.
If books are like people, there are some you just don’t like. This book is that person. I don’t regret having read it, I’m just glad it’s over. I do hope it goes on to make many others feel more comfortable in their bodies: the world needs much more of that.