I’m wary of reviewing this because I wonder if maybe it speaks to an experience I don’t have, and what I perceive as gross stereotypes are actually true to many people’s experiences. Hell, I’m sure they ARE true to plenty of people’s experiences, because people and their experiences are extremely varied. I do feel comforted by the fact that many people on Goodreads seem to share my frustration with this novel, though.
This novel is set up in 13 vignettes, all set in different periods of the live of Elizabeth/Lizzie/Liz (and now I’m sitting here wanting to reread Shirley Jackson’s The Birds Nest as a chaser to this book), who spent many years of her life self-described as fat, but lost a lot of weight later in adulthood to become (again, self-described) thin. There are stories of her in high school, of her as a married adult, of her at work, and more.
Elizabeth herself is a narrator that’s hard to like. Ain’t nothing wrong with a cynical woman, but she’s cynical to the point of meanness, and constantly hearing her mean thoughts about other people is grating. Worse, all of her anger is directed towards thin women, which seems like a fairly bog-standard stereotype of fat women. The book also connects her early promiscuity to her size, making use of the “desperate fat woman who will accept any attention from men, no matter how uncaring or cruel” stereotype as well. The thin women are all neurotic, stupid, or shallow and obsessed with weight themselves. As I said, all of these things may be true to the author’s experience, but it doesn’t make it fun to read, nor does it make it interesting.