Review – Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
This review of Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body is straight up full of spoilers. Read the book first if you want to find out about pertinent key issues on your own
Fan of Memoirs?
Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay is a memoir that’s wasn’t on my radar. I have no real interest in biographies nor books on diet, body image, etc. However this is another buddy read with my sister in law. A couple of days before we were due to meet and discuss Hunger, I realised that I hadn’t even purchased it. Oops, swiftly purchased on Audible and binged it over two days.
I don’t intentionally read books I have no real interest in to give a low rating, that’s pointless when there are so many books out there to read. That said, I am open to new genres every once in a while. When I finally got around to reading Hunger, I was struck by its raw honesty and emotional depth. This is not just a book; it’s an experience.
Why despite Hunger wasn’t the book for me, there was much to appreciate
I tell myself that it’s good to occasionally get out of your comfort zone and read topics that you don’t know much about. Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body opened my eyes to the difficulties faced when trying to navigate the world as a large woman and the lasting impact of trauma. But Hunger A Memoir of (My) Bodywasn’t for me on several levels, the topic, the personal journey and how it was written. Plus I couldn’t understand some of the choices made.
Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body shows the ramifications and repercussions of actions. After this terrible incident (when she was gang raped), Gay wanted to control and perhaps punish her body for being attractive to boys for betraying her. It was the beginning of her journey with disordered eating, mental health issues and impulsive behaviour. Hunger was narrated by Gay and that added additional resonance and sadness to the read.
Trauma as a child is long lasting and Hunger illustrates this aptly
Gay confronts the societal norms surrounding body image and weight, offering a deeply personal perspective that challenges conventional wisdom. Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body delves into the author’s past, exploring how trauma shapes our choices and how healing is a long, arduous journey.
Gay’s struggle with identity and self-acceptance is a central theme, and her journey towards embracing herself is both heart breaking and inspiring. Her prose is unflinchingly honest and poignant. She does not shy away from difficult topics, making the narrative incredibly impactful. Reading this book made me really sorry that Gay had to experience what she did.
One thing that stands out for me is that despite the closeness of the family, Roxane didn’t discuss her rape as an adolescent which was the starting point for her battle with her body. Her need for control and to subdue the thoughts and memories of the vile act. She didn’t discuss it with her parents until this book. They were in the dark about her inexplicable weight gain, abandoning her studies and random behaviour. I fully understand that children do not disclosure when bad things happen to them, but thought that a good relationship with parents would somewhat mitigate that.
Hunger A Memoir of (My) Body is a gut-wrenching memoir that tackles complex issues like body image, trauma, and identity with grace and courage. It’s a book that will make you rethink societal norms (around body shaming, feminism and racism) and perhaps, more importantly, encourage you to be kinder to yourself.
2 Stars - It Was Okay