Hunger (2017) by Roxane Gay is an introspective on the life of a woman who went through trauma, and whose trauma weighted down her body physically for the rest of her life.
“Writing this book is a confession. These are the ugliest, weakest, Barest parts of me. This is my truth. This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided”
I don’t often read nonfiction. It’s really thanks to book club that I discovered this new love for memoirs.
In Hunger, Roxana Gay grapples with something terrible that happened to her at a very young age. Herein lies the difference between fiction and nonfiction. In The Lightless Sky that we read earlier this year, we saw the psyche of a refugee after the journey. Same with Roxane, we get to see how an event has affected her life over the course of 30 years later. Fiction books would end at the event itself, a story would be just the journey or just the trauma.
“Mine is not a success story. Mine is simply, a true story”
Ok. Truth time. I have a terrible relationship with food. I prioritize it, I overeat, I tend towards late-night binges, I have an insatiable sweet tooth and I’m an emotional eater. This book resonated with me for all those reasons. I do have other healthy habits (thank God) which come halfway towards mitigating these toxic patterns, but I always promise myself I’ll do better. Fasting in Ramadan always makes me think about this, about how I never NEED that late-night snack the way I think/feel that I do. I can go a whole day without eating and be fine, so certainly I can stave off that last chocolate before bedtime.
“I wish I had the kind of strength and willpower to tell you a triumphant story. I am in search of that kind of strength and willpower. I am determined to be more than my body – what my body has endured, what my body has become. Determination , though, has not gotten me very far”
It’s crazy what I find have in common with Roxane. The tons of photo albums, the struggle with food and with body image. The daydreamer childhood. The incessant writing and a fierce imagination.
This is not a story of triumph, but this is a story that demands to be told and deserves to be heard… this is a book about disappearing and being lost and wanting so very much, wanting to be seen and understood.
Some parts I can’t relate to: I love my friends, I’ve always had friends. I love hugging and I’m touchy feely. I always wore bright colours even when I was fat. I was the girl rocking blue and silver eyeliner, stripes, chunky jewelry, bright lilacs and blazers and leggings.
I like how she discussed loneliness, how it is slowly accumulated. How it builds, and it shook me to read that experience, even though I thankfully have never felt lonely to the core.
Family is powerful, no matter what. We’re always tied together with our eyes and our lips and our blood and our bloody hearts.
You need to feel comfortable in your own body. I related so much to the idea of being SO sensitive of taking up space, of accidentally spilling over into someone’s else’s personaly space because my rolls of fat could not contain themselves. I was never that big, but to this day I will open a door much wider than I need to to walk into a room. It is so easy to carry the shame of never admitting how you feel because you’re not worth someone’s love and sometimes it feels impossible to demand love from anyone. Roxane shows us that things aren’t perfect – even when you come from a super loving family. Other things can break you, and last and stick.
I am stronger than I am broken.
I’m going to end this with 7 Powerful Quotes from: The Lily
Update: I heard that RG has now undergone gastric bypass surgery. This is surprising seeing how against it she was in the opening of the book.