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GSWS Feminist Book Club - April 2023
GSWS Feminist Book Club's April Book:
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
Penguin Books (2016)
Average member rating: 4/5
Another valuable read and discussion for the GSWS Feminist Book Club! This was our second novel by Awad. We’d had mixed opinions on All’s Well (2021) but agreed it was well written. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is Awad’s debut 2016 novel, and it was a Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist. It explores ways of looking at ourselves, and ways of looking at others. The lens here is through fatness and body image. We were unanimous in feeling challenged by this book: appreciating the story, the depth of the feeling Awad evokes with her sharp prose, and the themes that hit close to home. It’s these very strengths, though, that make this book a more difficult reading experience. Main character Lizzie has her own set of challenges, and though each of ours are not exactly the same, we discussed how many women share common body image experiences. This book spurred conversation around the role of media and current economic systems in reinforcing stereotypes of female beauty and perfection; anxiety issues around body image; and internalised misogyny. Kudos to Awad for writing this rather difficult story in a readable and compelling way. This is a book we would recommend, but with a strong caveat that it could be very triggering for anyone with body image issues or a troubled relationship with food.