Review: 13 Ways to Look at a Fat Girl 9780143194798 ISBN 9780143194798

Review: 13 Ways to Look at a Fat Girl 9780143194798 ISBN 9780143194798

Title: 13 Ways to Look at a Fat Girl
Author: Mona Awad
ISBN: 9780143194798
Price: $20.00
Publisher: Penguin Canada

Review by Bobbi Zahra

Montréal-born Mona Awad offers a fictionalised account of what is surely the real-life story of any number of women. Although the stories are set in Canada, they could – and probably do – play out all over the world in a very similar fashion.

Awad has taken time to craft careful prose to present her Lizzie, a kind of everywoman – complex in many respects, occasionally willing to settle for too little, because she doesn’t seem to believe that she is worth more. We see some of the less attractive and too-often stereotyped pictures of women here – the competitive females in Lizzie’s life include, on occasion, her best friend and her own mother.

There’s a running theme on what Lizzie (and thus, Everywoman) does in order to be ‘good enough,’ including the ubiquitous attention to diet and fashion. The painstaking attention to everything that goes into Lizzie’s mouth becomes quite excruciating, in fact, and her obsession with diet affects her relationship with her partner.

We know a great deal about Lizzie’s thoughts on diet and fashion, because the subjects are raised in almost every one of the book’s 13 chapters, each a small portrait of Lizzie in a particular situation – the 13 ways Awad offers us of looking at a fat girl are all from Lizzie’s perspective. In the end, it seems that there’s one way to look at a fat girl, and that is that she probably won’t become happy until she is no longer a fat girl.

There is truth to this fiction, though, even in moments clearly designed by the writer to be funny. The overall air of the book is of a life lived with a certain desperation – if we look at Lizzie and laugh, it may be because we recognise in ourselves this propensity for continual critique (not only of ourselves, but also of others) – and because it is easier to suggest that Awad is writing humourously and not bitterly.

This might be the sort of book one would find on the shelf at a summer beach rental, left by a previous visitor – who might or might not have finished it.


This book is available at Livres Trois Canons – the English Bookstore in Quebec City at Place Naviles.

Tel: (418) 204-4325

info @ livrestroiscanons .com
Quebec City English bookstore

Librairie anglaise à Québec 


About Author

Livres Trois Canons

Livres neufs et usagés en anglais à Québec. Livres Trois Canons, Place Naviles, 3400-SS2, chemin des Quatre-Bourgeois, Québec (Québec) G1W 2L3 Tél: (418) 204-4325 info @