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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Paperback
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- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1472151119
- ISBN-13 : 978-1472151117
- Item Weight : 13.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 9.13 x 0.94 x 6.3 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,182,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Like it's meant to be some kind of fairy tale, or the lesson to be learned is meant to leave the reader feeling accomplished and good. Like wisdom always feels good or something.
Or the 5-star ratings that praise this as though it's this suspenseful and emotionally captivating read—which I personally feel is misleading and such a misrepresentation of why this book exists.
"LOVE IT!!!" feels cheap. Calling this book amazing feels like a lie.
When I started reading Hunger, I knew I was going into a memoir that was probably going to feel very uncomfortable; both in just reading about the real trauma a real person had experienced, and the fact that I have also suffered trauma. I am also obese and have experienced the fear of losing weight for the same reasons the author has and does. I get it and I felt myself bearing down and then a dull sense of disturbance fill my stomach as I got closer to what I knew lived in the pages of this memoir.
I read a life that seemed very similar to mine; at a certain point I even felt a sting of annoyance that someone wrote down my story and got the success that I probably could've had a long time ago. I lived this life, in my own ways—so much of it was terribly familiar to me. Some moments mirrored my own, and some situations I couldn't even begin to imagine myself in.
I'm wondering if those who got nothing out of this really missed the point of what Roxane's memoir is. She's not here to teach us a moral, or to leave us feeling empowered in our obesity, or giving anyone a sense of moral high ground.
This memoir reads as a practice in pure catharsis—an attempt at validating her own traumas and seeing how it latched onto her and changed her perception of herself. It's not about the reader and really whatever they're hoping to get out of it; Roxane is showing us the very experiences that closely reflect those similar to her.
Yes, it is redundant because trauma doesn't just go away. Trauma follows and manifests over and over again, however the brain makes it until the person is able to resolve it. That resolution, though?—sometimes it never shows up. Sometimes, trauma looks like decades of just eating, chatting online, the same list of stupid choices, failed jobs and grades, evictions, severed relationships, and the same relationships that hurt someone the first time the trauma happened.
Years upon years of the same BS, neverending. Always going. And for an obese person—an obese woman of color—Roxane Gay's memoir is chronic and endemic, and it's deeply disturbing and can feel the reader with hopelessness.
Some readers found this book boring because it just repeated the same things over and over. They lost interest. They ask, "What is in this for me? I want my money back! DO NOT READ, EVERYONE."
If this book is anything, it is a practice in empathy for those whose lives have been debilitated and left in Limbo by the foul choices of others—even children, as Roxane Gay had been victim to. And in saying that, I will say that from my perspective, the people complaining about how bored they were and how disappointed that they didn't get any helpful advice or "wisdom" out of this memoir completely failed in that practice.
Welcome to trauma. Welcome to sexual trauma. Welcome to rape. Welcome to PTSD. Welcome to eating disorders. And welcome to all of those things, wrapped up into a life that spent years being unresolved, misunderstood, unnoticed, invalidated, and left to rot—all because anyone could see was that Roxane Gay was fat.
This is a troubling book to read. It's full of angst. The short chapters feel as if each could be a confessional on a shrink's couch. The author shares her innermost wants, needs, feelings. It is so revealing that the reader feels as if they are intruding. The courage it took to write the book is evident. But, what's not so evident but clear is how much the author had to go deep within herself to really understand who she was. I'm assuming she did that alone and not in therapy. She doesn't mention being in therapy (except some counseling when she was in high school).
Given all the revelations in the book, the reader begins to search his or her own soul. In doing that, we might ask ourselves, do we really see others? Do we assume by what we see in other people's appearance (bodies), they are a certain way without knowing that person. Are we subconsciously critical of people who are fat (anorexic, old, handicapped--my additions)?
Ms. Gay helps the reader understand the difficulty she has doing very normal things, like going out to dinner with friends, going to the doctor, using a public restroom, flying in an airplane, sitting behind the steering wheel of a car, going to a movie or the theatre. The list is endless. I can add others: Serving on jury duty, walking on a sidewalk, sitting on a park bench. Those of us in normal-sized bodies take all these things for granted. After having read Hunger, I will never take these things for granted again.
Hunger is a tough read. My hope is the process of writing it helped Ms. Gay deal with her own deep-seated, long-standing traumas. In the meantime, I will never look at an overweight person in the same way. That much I gained from this book.
The book is not a slow read. The chapters are quickly devoured. The sentences short with much repetition. The emotion high.
I'm disappointed that a self-proclaimed feminist chooses to risk the safety of others for her own personal satisfaction. Rape is not a game, but she sure as hell treats it like one. She even muses if he's raped other little girls, but her curiosity is uncaring and crass. This book is about herself, with no traces of empathy or compassion. I found her bland as a writer and disgusting as a human.
Top reviews from other countries
Then after she wrote her book ‘Bad Feminism’ there was a photo-shoot for the book promotion. Staring at her full-length body shot she realized that that was her. That was what she looked like. That was the beginning of her coming to peace with herself and the world.
This book is not a sop story. It is not a story that ‘demands to be told and deserves to be read’. It will be impossible not to like RG when one has read the last line of the book and feel with her, sharing her jubilation, enjoying her freedom. It is a book that everyone who is in a cage should read – and who is not in a cage?
The book details her struggles with her body. After a terrifying experience as a teenager she ate as a form of protection which resulted in a lifelong battle with obesity. Her weight remains a powerful identifier.
In the book RG is incredibly honest - I actually struggled to believe that someone was brave enough to say everything she does. Almost everyone struggles with weight at some point and to some degree or another, this means that there will be something in this book that will be familiar. Her reactions and weight issues are more extreme than most people's but she writes in such a frank manner that there is no opportunity (or desire) to judge her choices.
Admittedly this goes against some of the morals of the book but I loved the cover of the edition I read (end of a fork), although it took me a while to work it out!!
I try very hard to be non judgmental and think I can often empathise with people who are different from me, however I found reading this book quite hard. RG made me analyse my attitude to people who are overweight. I came away from this book vowing to work harder on my approach to other people and will also try to influence how others see fat people. I genuinely had no idea how hard it is to do the most simple of tasks (sit on a chair in a restaurant, walk through a door and many others).
This is a difficult read and is uncomfortable but it is meant to be - that reaction is the only way to acknowledge some understanding of the author.
If anyone wants to understand how I feel this is the book to read