Hunger by Roxanne Gay is formatted in a way that makes the book easy to read. Roxanne has divided her memoir into short chapters, some less than a page. Although these chapters can be read in chronological order each is a kind of essay or story unto itself. I found myself skipping around reading only one chapter at a time, because the content of Hunger is not easy to read at all and sometimes one chapter was all I could process before I had to put the book down and take a break. Roxanne is in her own words morbidly obese and in her book she tells us how that happened. She was gang raped at age 12 and she hid the assault from her parents who she realizes in hindsight would have come to her defense and supported her. By eating obsessively she was able to create a body form that she thought would repel men and thus protect her from further sexual assault.
Today Roxanne is a university professor and well-respected author and journalist. She describes in detail just how difficult it is to manuever through family life, a career, romances and day-to-day to living when you are morbidly obese. She tells us in the first sentence of this book that hers is not a tale of triumph. This is not one of those stories where a person changes their life by losing lots of weight. This is a story of a woman who wants to try to accept who she is, understand who she is, and have a future. But……. this does not stop her from still imagining on some of the last pages of the book what it would be like to be slim and to feel comfortable in her own body.
This is not a book with easy answers. It relates a very troubling story. But you have to admire Roxanne for having the courage to tell it. And if you look at the comments for reviews of her book you realize Roxanne speaks for plenty of other people who live with some of the same realities she does. After reading the book I was left feeling very sorry for Roxane, while at the same time realizing that’s the last thing she would want.