Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
For such a vulnerable, raw memoir, no one but the author could voice the breathtaking revelations, brutal truths, and profound knowledge contained here. "Every body has a story and a history," Gay (Bad Feminist, Difficult Women) begins. Gay stands 6'3"; at her heaviest, she weighed 577 pounds. The daughter of Haitian immigrants who was raised upper-middle-class, Gay was smart, privileged, loved, and thin, like the rest of her family. Until she wasn't: "What you need to know is that my life is split in two...there is the before and after. Before I gained weight. After I gained weight. Before I was raped. After I was raped." Weight protected her, until her corpulence became a "cage" from which Gay attempts to write herself free: "This is a book about learning...to allow myself to be seen and understood." -VERDICT Gay calls this work "the most difficult writing experience of [her] life"; audiences are likely to find Hunger a difficult-yet rewarding-experience, as well. ["Displays bravery, resilience, and naked honesty from the first to last page": LJ 6/1/17 starred review of the Harper hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Novelist and cultural critic Gay (Bad Feminist) writes of being morbidly obese in this absorbing and authentic memoir of her life as "a woman of size." Born in l974 in Omaha, Neb., to Haitian immigrant parents, Gay initially lived a comfortable life in a loving family. After a group of boys raped her when she was 12 years old, Gay's world began to unravel, and she turned to overeating as a way of making her violated body into a safe "fortress." Ashamed to tell her Catholic parents what had occurred, she harbored her secret for more than 25 years. In the course of this memoir, Gay shares how her weight and size shade many topics, including relationships, fashion, food, family, the medical profession, and travel (the bigger her body became, the author notes, the smaller her world became). She suffered profound shame and self-loathing, and boldly confronts society's cruelty toward and denigration of larger individuals (particularly women), its fear of "unruly bodies," and the myth that equates happiness with thinness. This raw and graceful memoir digs deeply into what it means to be comfortable in one's body. Gay denies that hers is a story of "triumph," but readers will be hard pressed to find a better word. Agent: Maria Massie, LMQLit. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* More than once, Gay, author of essays (Bad Feminist, 2014), short stories (Difficult Women, 2017), and crime fiction (An Untamed State, 2014), refers to writing this memoir as the hardest thing she's ever done. Readers will believe her; it's hard to imagine this electrifying book being more personal, candid, or confessional. At 12, Gay survived a devastating sexual assault, a point on her time line that would forever have a before and an after. She focused the trauma inward, and, as a frequent refrain goes, she doesn't know, or she does, how her body came to be unruly, undisciplined, and the kind of body whose story is ignored or dismissed or derided. The story of her body is, understandably, linked to the story of her life; she tells both, and plumbs discussions about both victims of sexual violence and people whose bodies don't adhere to the ideal of thinness. In 88 short, lucid chapters, Gay powerfully takes readers through realities that pain her, vex her, guide her, and inform her work. The result is a generous and empathic consideration of what it's like to be someone else: in itself something of a miracle. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Buzz has long been building for Gay's memoir, with which she'll go on an extensive author tour.--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A heart-rending debut memoir from the outspoken feminist and essayist.Gay (Bad Feminist, 2014, etc.) pulls no punches in declaring that her story is devoid of "any powerful insight into what it takes to overcome an unruly body and unruly appetites." Rather than a success story, it depicts the author, at 42, still in the throes of a lifelong struggle with the fallout from a harrowing violation in her youth. The author exposes the personal demons haunting her lifenamely weight and traumawhich she deems "the ugliest, weakest, barest parts of me." Much of her inner turmoil sprang from a devastating gang rape at age 12. "I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe," she writes. Gay painfully recalls the "lost years" of her reckless 20s as a time when food, the anonymity of the internet, and creative writing became escapes and balms for loneliness. The author refers to her body as a "cage" in which she has become trapped, but her obesity also presents itself as a personal challenge to overcome the paralyzing psychological damage caused by rape. Broken into clipped, emotionally resonant chapters, Gay details a personal life spent grappling with the comfort of food, body hyperconsciousness, shame, and self-loathing. Throughout, the author is rightfully opinionated, sharply criticizing the media's stereotypical portrayal of obesity and Oprah Winfrey's contradictory dieting messages. She is just as engaging when discussing her bisexuality and her adoration for Ina Garten, who taught her "that a woman can be plump and pleasant and absolutely in love with food." Gay clearly understands the dynamics of dieting and exercise and the frustrations of eating disorders, but she also is keenly in touch with the fact that there are many who feel she is fine just as she is. The author continues her healing return from brokenness and offers hope for others struggling with weight, sexual trauma, or bodily shame. An intense, unsparingly honest portrait of childhood crisis and its enduring aftermath. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.