The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg
This book, recommended on Oprah’s website, was about Edie, who is a strong-willed, strong-minded woman with a debilitating weight problem, which becomes the focal point of everyone around her. Her children rally around her to help her try to eat healthfully and exercise. Her husband leaves her because he feels she’s killing herself. Yet she finds new love in a Chinese chef, who loves her for her exuberant appetite for food and for life.
It sounded to me like the makings of an interesting story; unfortunately, in my mind it fell flat. The characters are developed to a point and then left behind. The voice changes with each chapter, which so often works, but somehow in this book, feels like things get started and never finished. The flow is choppy and details feel randomly thrown at the reader. By the end, I found myself wondering what the point of the book really was.
In our weight-obsessed society, it is also hard to read more about the hardships of being overweight. We are valued by the scale, and no other accomplishments are considered. If we are thin, we are good. And unfortunately, it seems that while they give Edie a strong personality, that works against her and makes her less loved — feared, even, by her friends! — and does not redeem her from her obesity. This sadly upholds stereotypes that I was hoping would be dispelled.