- Title: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
- Author: Roxane Gay
- Genre: Memoir
- Structure: Collection of essays
- First Line: “Every body has a story and a history.”
Synopsis: From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself
“I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe.”
In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.
Easy, easy, easy full 5 star rating from me! I consider this a rare find because I know very few books where I can slap a full 5 stars on it right out the gate. I love Roxane Gay as an author. I think she’s excellent and the things that she has to say are important and so relevant to today. I’ll go through my typical points, but if you want the short story, just buy it and read it. You won’t regret it.
- There were so many moments where I connected strongly to what Roxane Gay was saying. There were parts where it felt like someone unscrewed my skull, dabbed my brain in ink, and rolled it across the page. If you’ve ever found a book like that, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’ve never found a book like that, then you need to add this one to your list.
- I think this book can be an easy bookshelf staple. It is incredibly relevant in so many areas of life. No matter where you are in the circle of life, I think you will find something here. This is a book that I would gladly pass out to all my friends because it’s universally excellent.
- It’s not a self-help book, but it is helpful in the sense of somebody finally putting the words to paper. She describes the world we live in and the struggles we have as a society in such haunting detail that you can’t help but take pause when you read this book.
- Allow me to take a moment to say “THANK YOU, ROXANE GAY” for saying all the things that need to be said. I wrote down so many quotes from the book. There were entire essays I wanted to run a highlighter over because all I could think about was “yes, to all of this!”.
- As if it needs to be said, this book is beautifully written. I’ve never seen anyone tackle such raw, heartbreaking struggles with this amount of poise and clarity. I mean, wow. This book is powerful. And, if anyone knows how to cut with words, it’s Roxane Gay. You’re not reading words on a page; you’re feeling someone’s thoughts and it’s an amazing experience.
THE UNFAVORABLE BITS
I don’t really have any complaints. Roxane Gay is one of my favorite authors of all time. If I had to be picky about something, then I would say that there were a few moments when I felt like the book lagged. However, a few moments out of 88 chapters/essays is nothing. I sense that where I felt the story lagged, someone else would feel the opposite. It’s a matter of opinion.
As per usual, I let you know about any graphic parts or strong language in case you’re sensitive or in case you want to recommend the book. There is some strong language, but it’s few and far between, and details about rape.
THE SWEET SPOTS
In this section, I cover some of my deeper, personal thoughts. Books are meant to make you think. I always think the best books are the ones that help you discover pieces of yourself.
- Did this book remind you of anything that has happened to you?: Yes. 100% yes. A common theme that runs throughout the book is this fear of taking up space. This is a fear I didn’t know I had until a couple years ago when my therapist began working on it with me. This fear of taking up space is real and it is intense. While I would never want anyone to feel like they have no right to take up space (thinking about it breaks my heart), it was refreshing to see someone describing it in such accurate, avid detail. It was nice to know that something that’s usually a lonely experience doesn’t have to be that lonely at all.
- Did this book give you any new ideas of yourself?: Absolutely. If anything, this book gave me more confidence and permission to live outside the confines of society. It also allowed me to see some of the things I have felt throughout my life spelled out on paper. This was powerful because a) I read things better than I hear them and b) it showed me that I’m not the only one on the planet that feels these things.
- What lesson did you learn?: The rampant dislike, even hatred, of people who don’t fit into society’s ideals is so deeply ingrained into us that we sometimes don’t even notice it all. Roxane Gay’s description of us not knowing the truth of someone else’s body was enlightening in a surprising way. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of that basic principle. It’s that it highlighted that our bodies are so much more than the packaging of our souls. Every groove and crevice are physical reminders of where we’ve been and the vivid histories we all carry with us.
I give this book a solid 5/5 stars. This book speaks volume. We have needed this book for some time and I think it should be on everyone’s reading list. This is a great book to keep in your literary arsenal. It is raw, real, and extremely relevant for the times we live in. No matter where you are in life, you will discover something relatable in this collection of essays by a phenomenal author.
*Looking for more? You can find my review of Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay here!