June has been…something. I mean, A LOT has happened. Not only did I attend my daughter’s high school graduation and participate in AP exam scoring for the first time, but I also got a new job way on the other side of the country. And, yes, I did just buy a house last year. So, I am officially in moving mode and prep mode and general my short-lived vacation is over mode. 😩
Obviously, I am happy about the new job. The emoji is used for dramatic effect because I didn’t plan to be moving (again!) this summer.
I also finished one other book this month:
Roxane Gay can tell her story however she wants and in the best way that serves her. For me, though, I read maybe the first half of this in one sitting and then it took me over a week to finish the rest because it got very circular and repetitive–much like reading someone’s diary or journal. (I know this because when I look back at my old journals, I am always struck by how often I circle around the same issue(s) until I decide to take some sort of action.) Hence the rating of 2.5 stars, rounded up.
A few things stuck out to me while reading this:
1. She mentions that she gained weight specifically to make herself invisible after her weight, and she also briefly mentions anorexic women and how they make themselves smaller and how she has a morbid fascination and even envy of those women. However, she doesn’t ever seem to make the explicit connection that she is doing the same thing as those women–that they are using the same weapon (f00d) in different ways (deprivation vs. excess).
2. She gained weight because of her trauma (getting raped when she was 12), which makes this, really, a glimpse into someone who suffers from PTSD and has chosen food and overeating to deal with that trauma yet has, in some ways, caused herself more suffering because of how she treats her trauma. (She explicitly talks about the ways her weight gain has limited her AND how she limits herself in other ways because of her weight gain.) This is not unusual for sufferers of PTSD.
3. She constantly refers to her body as a cage. This is NOT a narrative about someone who has gotten better. This is a narrative of someone who is dealing. I mention that because if you like a happier or more hopeful ending, then this memoir does not deliver on that front. At one point, she says, “I am as healed as I am going to be” and given that her body is a cage and the book is mostly written in present tense and it is still raw and painful–though she clearly states that she is in a better place than she used to be because she is making better choices about how she treats herself–I found this unbearably sad. That is in large part because…
4. She mentions therapy one time, and it’s something she does because her high school or college counselor makes her and she is not honest during the process. Obviously, though this is a personal account, only Gay knows how personal it is. She could very well have revisited therapy or something else after that. However, it’s not mentioned. Therefore, I feel it imperative to say that if you read this memoir and you relate to it–especially the parts about not deserving good things or not deserving to be treated well by people or obsessing about your body/weight and mistreating yourself–and you think that one day you’ll figure out how to treat yourself better or whatever, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO IT ALONE. There is therapy and there are support groups and some of these things are free or available on a sliding scale. And I’m not talking about losing weight. I am talking about loving yourself and allowing yourself to be loved.
Anyway, I obviously have strong feelings about that last point, and I’m not going to talk about most of it in a public forum, but I have my own experience with it that I am willing to discuss via private message or email.
5. This is not a memoir about overcoming. This is a memoir about being in survival mode, right now. I related to a lot of this, and I’m glad I read it. There’s a definitely a place for this type of memoir, though (or because, honestly) it is different from most.
That brings my total books read for the month of June to four.
- Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay (adult, non-fiction)
- Not a Self-Help Book: This Misadventures of Marty Wu by Yi Shun Lai (adult)
- Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (YA)
- Blame by Michelle Huneven (adult, audiobook)
Truth: I think I was too generous in my original review of Blame because I hate it more the more I think about it.
I have too much to say about TV in this post, but I will note that I did rewatch The Good Place, I have been watching Still Star-Crossed, and I have been trying (again) to finish Jane the Virgin. My life has gotten a touch distracting, though, and I am once again behind on all of the TV I want to watch. Mostly because I keep playing Bejeweled instead.
Maybe July will be different.