I ended up reading 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad as I learnt that it is a compilation of 13 detached stories rather than a continuous novel. It didn’t disappoint me that way. It depicts an initially fat girl’s life by picking up thirteen random set of days spread across almost those many years.
It starts in Mississauga, which she fondly refers to as Misery Saga, where we meet Elizabeth and her friend Mel. Here Elizabeth/Liz/Lizzy is the fat girl and Mel is the not so fat one. It is clear right from here that Liz is a regular teenager depressed about her obesity and the book is not about changing people’s perception regarding beauty. She is not here to offer a discourse regarding beauty not being skin deep and neither is she going to shame the body-shamers. What she rather does is far more amazing as, in the course of the book, she scraps a huge chunk of her flesh to gradually transform into a slim “moderately fuckable” woman. It takes years of self-motivation coupled with an extremely disciplined life to achieve this. Through the quaint stories scattered across the book, the writer shows us the colossal effort that Liz applies to achieve the transformation.
While her life remains disciplined and centred around gym, Pilates, aerobics and salads that bring about the extreme transformation, the timid insecure teenager simultaneously transforms into a callous haughty woman unable to handle relations. When the end is near, she tries to cling on to her husband. The author paints an eloquent depiction of the way she attempts to clutch on to a last straw to save her sinking relationship.
The next chapter is a kind of a gradually dwindling hope of a reconciliation, and the subsequent chapters sketch her moderately dull life post divorce.
The second chapter is magnificiently narrated in second person.
The book itself is an overall nice effort.