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13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

3.04  ·  Rating details ·  12,383 ratings  ·  2,012 reviews
Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks—even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she’s afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With ...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published February 23rd 2016 by Penguin Canada
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Joshilyn Jackson I have no doubt the author was very, very aware. It's not stealing; this is a literary reference, which is "fair use." MANY book titles are taken from…moreI have no doubt the author was very, very aware. It's not stealing; this is a literary reference, which is "fair use." MANY book titles are taken from famous poems. The Stevens poem is about finding beauty and wonder in a common, plain bird that does not usually inspire rapture. This author has applied it to a fat girl, something we in this country seldom look upon with awe or wonder or delight. It's smart -- it makes me want to read the book. (less)

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Apr 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really, really, really disliked this book. I quit about halfway through it because I just couldn't take it any more.

As a big girl, I feel invested in how people portray overweight women in the media. And I just couldn't handle how stereotypical this damn book was. Liz is a big girl. She's also socially awkward, a poor educational achiever and had terrible self esteem. She's portrayed as being so desperate for male attention that she doesn't care how badly she's treated and is generally pathet
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This starts out so strong and so much of the prose is just gutting for anyone who has been or is a fat girl. Awad gets everything right and, throughout these interconnected stories, reveals how absurd our culture is about women and their bodies. Several sections had me in tears. The challenge is the second half of the book, when the main character, Liz loses weight. Awad again gets this right, the challenges of going from fat to skinny, the pressures, the self-obsession and the warped outlook, b ...more
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2016
“13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” consists of thirteen vignettes that are mostly narrated by Lizzie (the “fat girl” of the title) but a few of the stories are about Lizzie from another person’s perspective. The first vignette was uncomfortable and disturbing in an icky sort of way – I decided to read one more vignette to see where Awad would take Lizzie.

And……..thirteen vignettes later……I found this collection to be extremely poignant, powerful and memorable. I got this from the library but I th
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
heard that this was a very polarizing read, and i can definitely see why -- luckily, i am good with a stagnant and slightly (if not downright) unlikeable protagonist, so i liked this book just fine. using the wallace stevens format, mona awad presents 13 vignettes about Elizabeth's life that hinge on her weight and self-image at various stages of her life. the book and its general tone reminded me of "real life" by halle butler, and is distinctively human and realistic in that it depicts an ongo ...more
Jo (The Book Geek)
This book was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. I'm not sure what exactly I was hoping to read, but it certainly wasn't this. The book consists of thirteen chapters, and each one is narrated by Lizzie, but some of the stories are involving Lizzie (The "fat" girl) but are told from another character's perspective.

From the onset, I knew that I wasn't going to love this book. The first chapter was pretty graphic, and actually irritated me, but I decided to see it through, and read on, po
Samantha Mitchell
Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Well, that was NOTHING like I expected. I didn't know anything about this one going into it. From the first few pages the shocking and graphic content had me speeding through the chapters, disliking Elizabeth/Liz/Beth (depends on the point in time) until the very last page where I actually just felt so sorry for her.

She goes from an obese teenager desperate for attention (in forms of online dating and her 40 year old boss), to a thin young adult, obsessed with food and gravely unhappy.

I wasn't
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The cover of this book is BRILLIANT, and I didn't realize what I was looking at until I finished. Just as the main character moves between fat and not fat in the thirteen different sections of the book, the word "fat" in the title has been partially erased. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Why? Being fat as a girl or woman is a heavy weight in our society (pun intended) - the assumption people make that fatness is the same as stupidity, worthlessness, lesser - we all do not want to believe it is ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
From the reviews and accolades that I've read about this book I was expecting a light hearted 'Bridget Jones-type' read with funny bits, a quirky protagonist and a good overall message about weight and learning to love oneself despite not being a size zero.

Others described the book as 'hilarious' and 'sparkles with wit' but I had a very different experience with Lizzie's journey. I actually found Lizzie to be quite sad and depressing. There were some rather funny descriptions thrown in throughou
May 18, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: actual-books
Awad seems to have written this book to capture every single negative stereotype about women of all sizes in one fell swoop - fat women are all bitter, unhealthy, maladjusted try-hards; thin women are all vapid, or bitchy, or vapid and bitchy; those in between are frumpy, unattractive, pathetic things that are barely worth mentioning. To try and better yourself is pathetic and senseless, according to Awad, but to accept yourself and "let yourself go" is even more so.

There isn't even a point to
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

If this title rings a bell to you . . . .

Or, at minimum, you are someone with a decent memory because it is very similar to the poem by Wallace Stevens. If you feel so inclined to Google said poem, you’ll find that Wiki says . . . .

The poem consists of thirteen short, separate sections, each of which mentions blackbirds in some way.

Such is the case with 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl. Intertwined vignettes where our MC (and
Cathrine ☯️
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: group-challenge
There's a lot of truth in this book, like it or not, but I did not find it "hilarious" nor did I find Lizzie "lovable."
In this time of almost viral fat shaming and girls and women obsessed with body image it is certainly relevant to tell a story of one whose entire life has been defined by her weight and self-loathing.
It was just such a dark read, though perhaps worthwhile for some needing to take a closer look at how they see themselves and others. I don't believe the subject matter should be f
This book was vile. Okay, track that back a bit. The sentences were well-written, and I actually liked the short-story-as-novel format. 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is not poorly written, but the content is awful. It is one of the most bitter, depressing books I've ever read. After I finished it, I looked at the quotes plastered all over it, promising its humor and wit, and could only wonder what the hell book the blurb writers had read, because it wasn't this. Elizabeth loathes herself, dee ...more
I guess it has become really trendy to publish well-written but unpleasant to read books over the past few years. Or maybe this is already passé and I am just my usual late-on-the-bandwagon self about this, because I have read a few of those lately. Frankly, while they are interesting reading experiences, I am sort of looking forward to the next time I read a book I can just enjoy. Anyway.

Mona Awad had baffled me with “Bunny” ( a couple of years ago. It w
Not sure why "13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl" by Mona Awad has such harsh reviews, but I thought this underrated gem was fascinating, painfully raw, and brazen. Even though this book is marketed as a short story collection, this is actually 13 vignettes of the protagonist, Lizzie (some of the stories are from different points-of-view, a sleazy boyfriend, and her future husband). We get to see Lizzie struggle with her weight as a teenager, we see her lose the weight in her early adulthood, and ...more
The Lit Bitch
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came across my desk for review a couple of months ago and initially I passed on it for review and agreed to do a special feature instead.

I wasn’t sure that I could fit it into my review schedule and I wasn’t sure it was something that I really wanted to read. However when I did the special feature, I completely rethought my decision!

After reading the discussion questions of the feature, I was intrigued. This book sounded like it was going to be raw, honest, and dark but yet poignant an
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-goal
It was a tough book to read. At times melancholic, sad, funny, pathetic, judgmental, honest and cathartic.

No doubt it's a book that will stay with me awhile... like that well-worn black sweater you keep when you don't know what else to wear. Even when you know it doesn't look good anymore, or maybe even when you know it never did.
Nov 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
Mona Awad has a singular voice. Her writing is sharp, witty, complicated, at times even repulsive, but always intentional. When I read Bunny earlier this year I fell head over heels for her fearlessness.

Her debut novel, really more a collection of 13 stories following our main character Beth/Liz/Elizabeth over years of her life as she struggles with body image, diet culture and weight gain/loss, is no exception. Awad's writing is like staring at the sun—you're drawn in, though at the same time
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I got an advanced copy of this.

DNF @ 80

Ehhhhh... I was pretty excited to read this because I feel strongly about societal body-shaming and whatnot. I didn't like this really that much at all.

It's a collection of short stories revolving around the same girl/woman. But they feel very disjointed and the setting is very unclear. One was written from the perspective of another person, but most were written through the narration surrounding the main character.

I mean, some of it was a little funny (in
Olivia Ard
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I've included a few spoilers in this review, but mostly they're thematic rather than details about the specific plot. Proceed at own risk.

My relationships with both weight and food have been complicated and mountainous for as long as I can remember, so when I heard about 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, I couldn't have been more excited to read it. Whether you struggle with your weight or not, I'm sure you're familiar with the obsession our culture has with physical appearance. The way we view
Jun 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I understand why people hate Mona Awad's books, but that's okay, because they're for me specifically. I owe her my life. NO ONE is doing mean girls like Awad. I feel like so many reviewers don't get that people in her books do not act like real people, and that's the point. Her books are heightened reality, absurdity with a dark thread of truth. To be fair, this is probably my least favorite, if only because I loved her weirder more surreal/magical stuff in Bunny and All's Well so much, but this ...more
Read in one sitting to:
A) get it over with
B) be prepared for relevant tutorial/lecture tomorrow
C) no really, just to be done with the damn thing.

There's 4 hours of my life I'll never get back, but hey. It's finished.

I read another reviewer note that "Awad seems to have written this book to capture every single negative stereotype about women of all sizes in one fell swoop". This is one of the most accurate statements about this novel I've read. It was like no one could do anything right. No ma
Book Riot Community
I don’t often do fiction on audio, but I’ve been trying to squeeze in more leisure reading now that I’m in grad school and my walk to work in the mornings seemed like the perfect time to get a book in my ears. This book is a series of linked short stories centered around Lizzie/Elizabeth/Beth (“the fat girl”) from adolescence to adulthood. It really digs into the concept of what it’s like to be a fat girl and explores the ways in which it forms Lizzie’s identity, even after she has lost the weig ...more
Lori Bosworth
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mona Awad's book is actually 13 short stories about Elizabeth, who at other times goes by "Lizzie" or "Beth" depending on what weight she is. In the beginning, Elizabeth is an overweight teenager, plagued by insecurities about her looks and whether boys find her attractive. She and her best friend, Mel, try Internet dating, dating older men and dating somewhat "creepy" men as they try to find love and acceptance from men. There are some admittedly funny moments in the earlier stories although, o ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good but choppy. Another possibly where the subject exceeded the writing. I'd give her another chance though in the future, when I get to reading again. On break, to make room for some new brain cells. ☺️ ...more
chantel nouseforaname
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is sad and lonely and emotionally raw in a way that was beautiful and also, at times, uncomfortable to read. I can't imagine any woman reasoning this and not identifying with the main character at times (thus the discomfort).

My main critique is that first half is quite a bit stronger than the second half; the character's stagnation is a bit grating. Regardless, I highly recommend this book. I was really moved reading it.
Jul 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The protagonist/"fat girl" cannot tell any type of story, cannot come up with a plot, because of all the extra small things in the way. Small? Well significant for the person. Stuff like food, clothing, friends. Without these components--little stuff that we take for granted but can be a barrier from living life thoroughly. The power of this book comes from the spotlit errors in an otherwise ordinary life. The glances. The awkwardness. It compiles little mistakes into a very believable life... ...more
George Ilsley
A frustrating, contradictory reading experience. On the one hand, Awad is definitely a talented writer, on the other hand, these episodes do not resonate with each other to achieve a larger whole. They are not short stories and the book is not a novel. It is perhaps 13 ways of looking at a character who is perhaps not the same person? How to explain this mess? My experience as a reader was increasing distance from the material. It did not grow on me; it receded away.

My favourite piece was "My Mo
Cori Reed
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I have both been a fat girl (like right now, hello!) and a fat girl who then lost weight, so although this book is crass in a lot of ways I couldn't help but see myself in it in some ways. We are taught again and again and again that fat=bad so it's no wonder this young girl/then woman was defined by it. I get it. I really do.

THAT SAID, I think it's important to acknowledge it and then take steps to have a healthier mindset. It ain't easy. We are not just w
Mar 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
Utterly depressing. The protagonist is miserable and cruel when she's fat, when she's thin, and when she's in-between. She has no compassion for herself or those around her. While this might ring true for some readers, I found it bleak and hopeless. ...more
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Mona Awad is the author of four novels. Her debut novel, 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL, won the Amazon Best First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. Her second novel, BUNNY, was a finalist for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror, the New England Book Award and won the Ladies of Horror Fiction Best Novel Award. It is currently in development for film with Jenni Konner and ...more

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