Book Review: Hunger by Roxane Gay

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt:  A book recommended by a celebrity you admire TW: Gang rape, fat-shaming, racism This...

Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book recommended by a celebrity you admire

TW: Gang rape, fat-shaming, racism

This book will make you uncomfortable, but maybe in some really wonderful ways. Roxane Gay starts out by sharing this isn't a memoir about being fat and losing weight - the story doesn't end with a happily ever after. And those of you who have been following along here for a while know I don't love memoirs. In fact, I'm not sure why I ever pick them up because I tend to struggle through them, but I sped through Hunger.

This memoir follows Gay, a queer, Black, fat feminist female, through her lifetime struggles with weight after a horrific incident she experienced as a child. This isn't a typical "I weighed 200 pounds and hated myself, so I lost the weigh and now I'm wonderfully perfect and happy" memoir. I've read that one, and finished it really not feeling great about myself. This is a different story about weight and other intersectionalities that lie within identities.

I wish I could truly put into words how I feel about this book, but I am not that good with words. Yet, I felt like I personally wrote some of the chapters within the pages. Yes, this book is about being fat (which isn't a curse word - so stop being so uncomfortable when people call themselves fat, thanks). But it's also about growing up, breaking free, being Black in a small town, understanding where your privilege lies and where you're underserved. There is so much heart and passion in the story, and Gay is entirely vulnerable throughout the entire book. I can't imagine how hard it must have been to put some of those things into writing.

I am not 577 pounds fat, which Gay reveals she has been at one point. And in some instances, I don't feel I'm fat enough to brand myself that way - it's like I'm not fat enough to fit in with other fat folks, but I'm not average enough to be in the mid-size club, either. So, sometimes my own personal doubts feel invalid. But Gay's words really truly spoke to me. And though I'm more of what she would refer to as "Lane Bryant fat," I really resonated with so many of her own insecurities.

"I was broke all the time, which is not to be confused with being poor. I had a safety net and I knew I had a safety net, and though there were many days I was fueled by ramen, still I did not go hungry while I hungered." - Roxane Gay, Hunger

The book, which is broken down into different parts and chapters, felt more like a book of essays to me than a straight-forward memoir. The timeline jumped back and forth at times, and some pieces within the book seemed redundant. I'm sure there's a deeper meaning to that, but I am not a literature person - I just like to read and take things as they are for the most part. I am not here to analyze why things are written how they are written. The redundancy wasn't my favorite thing, which resulted in a little bit of a lower rating for me, but in all other realities, the writing was elegant and truthful. The feelings Gay shares were conflicted, which aligns so well with how I feel as a fat woman. I want to love myself as I am, but I'm ashamed I'm fat, then I'm ashamed for being ashamed. It's just such an honest account of her truth, which aligned so well with how I feel pretty regularly.

Now here I am being redundant, and who am I to rate anything? But seriously, I had so many feelings about this book. I was crying literally two pages in. I highly urge you to pick this book up.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

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