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13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl Paperback – Feb 23 2016

3.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (Feb. 23 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143194798
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143194798
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Winner of the First Novel Award
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Beautifully told, with a profoundly sensitive understanding of the subject matter, it’s clear that all of the anticipation for this particular fiction debut was entirely warranted.”—The Globe and Mail

“A brilliant and disturbing first novel.”Literary Review of Canada

“As a portrait of the body-image issues and low-level eating disorders that afflict almost all American women, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is devastatingly thorough, its 13 short stories as addictive as potato chips and as painful as the prospect of eating nothing but 4-ounce portions of steamed fish for the rest of your life.”—Chicago Tribune

“In subject and voice, there are echoes of Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman and Janice Galloway’s The Trick Is to Keep Breathing, but neither has the wit of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl.”The Irish Times

Blunt and funny, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is a refreshingly honest look at how society views physical appearance, how we internalize those critiques and how that affects the way we navigate the world.”—Mashable 

“This is a very good book of short stories from a very good writer—a linked collection that is addictive, while at the same time, like any addiction, increasingly painful.—Maclean’s

“Awad portrays Lizzie's humiliations with unflinching honesty and a dose of dark humor.”—NPR

“With wit, sass and brutal honesty, Mona Awad has written a series of vignettes capturing a young woman’s struggle with self-acceptance.”Winnipeg Free Press

“[An] insightful debut novel . . . Awad’s sensitive, unflinching depiction of [Lizzie’s struggle] is a valuable addition to the canon of American womanhood.”—Time Magazine

“This book sparkles with wit and at the same time comes across as so transparent and genuine—Awad knows how to talk about the raw struggles of female friendships, sex, contact, humanness, and her voice is a wry celebration of all of this at once.”Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
“Hilarious and cutting . . . Mona Awad has a gift for turning the every day strange and luminous, for finding bright sparks of humor in the deepest dark. She is a strikingly original and strikingly talented new voice.”Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me and The Isle of Youth 
“It seems that Mona Awad can describe the imperfect nature of any love perfectly: whether it’s love between friends, between mother and daughter, husband and wife, woman and food. With sharp insight and sly humor, she makes you feel like you never understood the obsessive half-life of a food addict before. Not a word is wasted, and yet the book is bursting with richness and insight and observation. Each story works beautifully as a stand-alone piece and together they make a luminous whole, like a perfect string of pearls.”Katherine Heiny, author of Single, Carefree, Mellow

“Remarkable . . . committed to the most honest and painful portrayal and comprehension of what it means to be human, with all its flaws and joys.”Brian Evenson, author of Fugue State and Immobility

“Honest, searing, and necessary . . . [13 Ways] peels back the curtain on the struggles of entering womanhood—from body image, to relationships, to merely navigating the oh-so-cruel world."Elle, “16 Novels by Women Everyone Will Be Talking About in 2016”
“[Awad] skewers our body-image-obsessed culture with wit and honesty.”The Toronto Star, “Five up-and-coming writers to watch in 2016”

“Mona Awad writes exactly what you’re thinking, and that’s one of the many reasons you’re going to love her debut . . . [13 Ways] announces her as a writer with real insight not only to the mind, but also to the heart.”, “17 Of 2016’s Most Anticipated Books”

“In this dark, honest debut, Awad sharply observes—everywhere from online chat rooms to office break rooms—the struggles of growing up, growing out, and trying to slim down, at any cost.”Marie Claire

“As Lizzy examines the body she's never loved, our thin's-in, thigh-gap-crazy world comes into focus.”Cosmo

“A laugh-out-loud funny read that skewers our obsession with beauty and status . . . Lizzie is a character to love—she's imperfect and at times frankly difficult, but real, relatable, and memorable. If this book is anything to judge by, you'll be hearing lots more from and about Mona Awad, so don't miss it.”W Dish

“A painfully raw—and bitingly funny—debut . . . [Lizzie] gets under your skin, and she stays there. Beautifully constructed; a devastating novel but also a deeply empathetic one.”Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)

“Assured and terrific.”Publishers Weekly

“Touching . . . Behind the title of Awad’s sharp first book, a unique novel in 13 vignettes, is brazen-voiced Lizzie, who longs for, tests, and prods the deep center of the cultural promise that thinness, no matter how one achieves it, is the prerequisite for happiness.”Booklist

“Luminous . . . full of sharp insight and sly humor . . . It seems that Mona Awad can describe the imperfect nature of any love perfectly: whether it’s love between friends, between mother and daughter, husband and wife, woman and food.”Katherine Heiny, author of Single, Carefree, Mellow

“I loved this book!”Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans

About the Author

Mona Awad received her MFA in fiction from Brown University. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Walrus, Joyland, Post Road, St. Petersburg Review, and many other journals. She is currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing and English literature at the University of Denver.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By JR TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 14 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had to give this book a one word review, that would be ‘Overrated’. . .

This book is bitter and depressing and rife with negative stereotypes – fat women are unhealthy and maladjusted while thin are cruel and vapid … the ones who exist in between are frumps nary worth mention.

The main character seems to be filled with self-hatred. Her relationships with men are desperate and unfulfilled; her relationships with women are competitive and vicious, and she is trapped, unfulfilled, and unable to grasp onto the hope of anything beyond her existence.

The book has an opportunity to confront some deep and interesting subject territory but sadly fails to do
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Format: Kindle Edition
Some words that were used to describe this book were “sparkles with wit”, “sparks of humor in the deepest dark” and “tender and moving depiction of a lovably difficult young woman”. Well, I didn’t find it any of those and almost DNF’d the book at the halfway point, but with only about 100 pages left to read I persevered hoping that after Liz/Liza/Elizabeth/Beth (even her husband can’t keep straight which name she chooses to use at any particular time in her life) grew out of her teenage angst stage she would become a character I could relate to – didn’t happen.

Being an often-backsliding-battle-of-the-bulger myself I am frequently drawn to books featuring characters waging the same war. Add to that the fact that the setting for this book was Mississauga, Ontario (or Misery-Saga as Elizabeth refers to it) the book held appeal on a few levels which enticed me to pick up. In similarly themed books, whether the character succeeds and is blissfully happy in the their thinness, fails and comes to grips with their body or somewhere betwixt and between I am happy for them. Elizabeth did none of those … she was miserable fat and even more so thin. Not only that, she seemed to make everyone around her unhappy as well.

The story is written presenting short periods of Elizabeth’s life that I assume are to be the “13 ways of looking” referred to in the title. I found this a little off-putting as the time line would jump months or years into the future with no warning or explanation of why events were now so different from the previous page.

From her disastrous teen role models through her horrific on-line dating experiences to her hard won weight loss success and eventual falling of the wagon, this book did not work for me. Even the parts that I understood were supposed to be humorous just seemed sad. For me, this one just did not work.
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Format: Paperback
I had to process this book for a little while before writing a review

This book was very well written. I felt like I really got to know the characters, and understand them. I like the way she told the the story in 13 vignettes.

However, I did not enjoy the book. I felt that it hit very close to home for an issue that I, and many other women I know, have. For those of us that are not genetically blessed with being easily slim, it seems like we are constantly at war with our bodies. We can choose to be overweight and relatively comfortable, but hate ourselves. Or we can choose to be thin, and obsessively uncomfortable all the time, but maybe just like what we see in the mirror a tiny bit more.

Of course, this is not true. There is something in the middle, it is possible to be a healthy weight and have a healthy lifestyle and be basically happy and self accepting that way. But a lot of women struggle a lot to find that place, and some never do. This book's takeaway was that that place doesn't exist. But of course it does, it just has to do with more than white. It has to do with self-love, South acceptance, and changing our focus of desires for our bodies from what's socially desirable to what we want for ourselves.

This book says a lot about society'a attitudes towards weight, and the way women struggle to achieve and maintain a "healthy" weight... but leaves the general idea that women that struggle with weight are always going to be unhealthy, unhappy,, pathetic.

Of course, the author is under no obligation to provide solutions, or give a more palatable message… But I simply cannot enjoy, appreciate, or recommend a book that is so negative towards women and their struggles with weight.
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Format: Paperback
From the reviews and accolades that I've read about this book I was expecting a light hearted 'Bridget Jones-type' read with funny bits, a quirky protagonist and a good overall message about weight and learning to love oneself despite not being a size zero.

Others described the book as 'hilarious' and 'sparkles with wit' but I had a very different experience with Lizzie's journey. I actually found Lizzie to be quite sad and depressing. There were some rather funny descriptions thrown in throughout the book but overall this was a sad read for me because Beth/Lizzie/Elizabeth (or whatever moniker she's using) comes off as an unlikeable, sad and lost character that I couldn't relate to. By the end of the book I still didn't feel like I knew Lizzie and that was disheartening.

It was hard to like Lizzie. Even when she does lose weight she still lets the weight issue control her view of others as well as herself as she continues on her path of self destruction. Whether she's fat or thin Lizzie doesn't like herself. She will always be, in her own mind, the fat girl no matter what she calls herself or how much weight she loses which is an interesting look at self-esteem/weight loss but not an easy one to read.

I also wasn't fond of the short story/vignette format (which isn't alluded to in the book description). It took me a bit to figure out that the author was using this brief snap shot format instead of a more linear story line and that definitely affected my feelings for the book. I also found it hard to determine the time frame for some of the 13 stories that illustrate Lizzie's struggles.
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