I’m crouched over our beloved kitchen table, a genuine, historic pub-table come over on the boat from England, whose scratch marks and knife gauges speak of much more raucous action in the past than its modern day battles with squishy cheerios and baby drool, writing.
This kitchen table is centered in our new, fluorescent breakfast nook. I’m crouched because I’d be blinded if I looked up.
We just moved in. And, yes, I know paint can be changed. But, who has time for that anymore?
Thankfully, we did have time to meet a friend of mine from grad school - who’s also down here for a time - at a playground. Which means that I faced my fear and conquered the bridge over to the mainland. Even while I crested the top, though, my knees were shaking and I felt sweaty all over. Since then I’ve driven over a handful more times and it gets easier, phewie. And just like Madeline, it makes me want to say, “Pooh-pooh!” Meggie would love that!
Slowly, the boxes are making their way into a demolished pile on the garage floor, and slowly, random bits of our life are spreading themselves out on the counter tops. Playdoh sticks to the floor in abandoned patches, hardening. I’m a thorough worker, but not a fast worker, so this process might take awhile. I have to live in a space for a while before furniture placement makes sense to my non-spatial eyes - a characteristic that I think is beginning to drive Kyle a little batty as he’s used to working at a speedier pace.
Kyle’s taken the big girl out on in the jogging stroller. They’re running down the beach - a far cry from their normal route in our old, tree-lined neighborhood in Oklahoma.
The baby girl snoozes in her crib in the front room. How she can sleep in there, I don’t know because the morning sun streams right through our curtains and onto her strawberry-blond tufts of newbie hair. But still, she sleeps.
This week as we moved, I’ve been engrossed in a high-energy, contagiously fun new book which has served to transport me out of this muddled mess and into a BIG adventure.
Diary of a Mad Fat Girl explodes with grown-up humor as “Ace” Jones, the lovable, womanly-figured, instantly-relatable heroine, narrates a series of events in which she and her best friend, Lilly Lane, with the help of other characters, spy on their other best friend, Chloe’s, husband “Dick Richard” - a supposed womanizer with the intent of rescuing Chloe from the abusive relationship. Along the way, Ace battles her own insecurities about life, a long-time love with Mason McKenzie, and unfulfilled dreams. A drama-filled, small Southern town in Mississippi and forays with Ace’s precious Chiweenie dog sidekick, Buster Loo, round out this unforgettable, break-out novel.
At first I was a little turned-off, though, by Ace’s constant self put-downs about her body. She bemoans being “fat” and talks a lot about food in negative ways, comparing herself to ex-lingerie model, Lilly. Her negativity and poor body image frustrated me - as a woman and mother to two young daughters. It’s difficult enough to teach healthy body image these days without popular literature poking fun at different shapes and sizes. But, in the end, Ace confesses that she loves pizza, bacon-cheeseburgers, and beer more than she would love having a skinny-minny form. In a rare moment of true confession, she confides that she’s happy in her own skin and confident.
She’s also sought after by two different men who find her curves appealing - and more than that, her infectious personality. I thought these two things - Ace’s own confession and her inward-seeking love interests - redeemed her earlier complaints.
And, on many levels, I know many women relate to Ace’s struggles with weight in our culture. I know I do. I feel like different scenarios have prompted my own unhappiness with my weight since my teenage years - and I’ve definitely been emotionally eating through our whole moving process. I’ve thought of Ace every time I’ve ordered an extra helping of fried pickles at Sonic since arriving on the island a week ago. Again, Ace’s transparency about emotionally eating - and awakening self-knowledge makes her appealing as a heroine.
The author, Stephanie McAfee, through Ace, writes with a hilarious and powerful voice. I especially loved her creative choices of similes. Some so witty that I found myself actually laughing out loud - or giggling about hours later as a particular scene would come to mind. From start to finish, the action was fast-paced and Ace and her friends seemed so REAL and conversation clever. The group of friends in the novel had such ease in their relationships - I found myself envious of their long-standing ties from childhood. I love the kind of friends that know who you are to your very core - and serve to remind you through difficult situations like Ace’s do continually for her.
Occasionally, I would flip back to the “About the Author” section and re-read McAfee’s bio - her characters were so approachable that I couldn’t help but imagine that a lot of the thoughts, cares, concerns of the characters were influenced by McAfee’s own experiences. As a reader, this quality made me feel a connection with the author and an affection for all within the pages of the book. And, FUN FACT: McAfee originally self-published Diary of a Mad Fat Girl as an e-book...and e-book that then rose to the New York Times best-seller list!
One note of caution: the novel uses STRONG language A LOT and does contain mature subject matter. I would not recommend this novel for young or teenage readers. Some scenes were hard for me to read just because I tend to be a bit more naive (a little more Anne of Green Gables and not so much Sex and the City)...and the 30s single scene is one in which I have no personal familiarity.
But DO read with these things in mind if you’re in the mood for a light-hearted, boisterous, action-oriented, witty, romantic literary treat.
If you’re intrigued, come follow along as we discuss Diary of a Mad Fat Girl as part of the BlogHer Book Club.
The review above is a paid BlogHer Book Club Review. Although I’m receiving compensation for my participation, the opinions expressed are purely my own - with no pricetag attached. :)