This is a novel written for adults.
I can see that it might be just the thing for girls who are torturing themselves, in one way or another, about their weight, as so often happens. For them it will either be the wakeup Feminism 101 call so many people experience in college, or…or I don't know what. Maybe it will be their doorway to enlightenment. Or maybe they'll just think it's funny and great. Maybe it will be too much for them? But for most teens, I don't think so.
Enough dithering: the book is Dietland.
It's a coming-of-age, coming into one's own story of a revolutionary. And the revolutionary? She's a fat girl. This book traces her funny yet rage-filled journey from self-hatred, to dawning consciousness, to rage, to self-acceptance, to POWER.
What I think is awesome: We don't talk so much about how our culture views fat, and fat people, especially fat women. And it's important to see it, own it, and understand it. And we don't hear so much about how it feels to be fat, fat enough that people comment on it, and I am so glad to get that voice out there. We also don't get to see so much rage coming from girls and women, and it's (for me) incredibly refreshing. The book goes far—so far!—in its radicalism, and while I don't know that I could throw myself behind every one of its precepts, I am so gratified that Walker did. She committed herself fully and thoroughly, and that is inspiring. Also the ending: what an ending! Hooray for good endings! Hooray for exciting and unexpected books!
What was not so awesome: Some of the rage splatters a bit. When lashing out at the hurtful world, our heroine sometimes went for what read to me as homophobia, and it bummed me out. There was no narrative acknowledgement of how this might be problematic—she accuses some nasty men of wanting to be with little boys, and it just—it just felt bad to me. There are some patches in the writing where it felt more like notes rather than a fully fleshed out novel. Sometimes the book felt like a great kind of raw, and other times it felt like "this could be more cooked" kind of raw.
All in all though, it was fun and interesting and somehow thrilling to read. I would be all for leaving it out on the coffee table for any girl (or boy) to read, fat or not, because like all good books it will increase their world.
I haven't run it by Chestnut or Diana yet, as I gave my copy to my best friend. Which says it all right there.
When I get another copy, I will leave it out for them to read. I can't wait to hear what they will say.
4 thoughts on “Freeing Your Daughter, and Yourself”
I’ll be reading it soon, thanks to our conversation in Los Angeles. I think it’s going to be my October Books and Bakes selection.
Ooh! Im interested in what youll be cooking to go with it, and what you will think of the book.
Hmm I am have gotten much more sensitive to homophobia (and subtle racism) so not sure if I could get beyond that.
Yeah, I’m not sure if I’m being oversensitive to it here, or aware. I wouldn’t turn away from the book because of those brief moments. It’s also pretty positive about gay couples, but it did stick out to me, only twice, and only when she was speaking in a defensive rage that was intended to piss off the hearer, who was judged himself to be homophobic so it would really upset him. I would love someone else to read it, actually, and tell me what they thought of those moments.