Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Review: Hungry Heart

Summary: Jennifer Weiner is many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and an “unlikely feminist enforcer” (The New Yorker). She’s also a mom, a daughter and a sister, a former rower and current clumsy yogini, a wife, a friend, and a reality-TV devotee. In her first essay collection, she takes the raw stuff of her life and spins it into a collection of tales of modern-day womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Nora Ephron and Tina Fey. Born in Louisiana, raised in Connecticut, educated at Princeton, Jennifer spent years feeling like an outsider (“a Lane Bryant outtake in an Abercrombie & Fitch world”) before finding her people in newsrooms, and her voice as a novelist, activist, and New York Times columnist.

No subject is off-limits in these intimate and honest stories: sex, weight, envy, money, her mother’s coming out of the closet, her estranged father’s death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter say the f-word—fat—for the first time, Jen dives deep into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

Hilarious and moving, Hungry Heart is about yearning and fulfillment, loss and love, and a woman who searched for her place in the world, and found it as a storyteller. -- Atria

I wasn't entirely sure that I wanted to read the new book HUNGRY HEART: ADVENTURES IN LIFE, LOVE, AND WRITING by Jennifer Weiner. I consider myself a pretty big fan and I think I've read all of her adult novels. However, I will admit that they are hit and miss for me the past few years. The thing is, Ms. Weiner is a somewhat controversial figure in her public life... or should I say on Twitter; and I don't always agree with how she conveys her message (even when I do agree with her message!) Truth be told, I wasn't sure I'd like 400 pages of her story.

Well count me wrong! I actually enjoyed HUNGRY HEART quite a bit, and I give major kudos to Ms. Weiner for being so honest. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Weiner can be hilarious. (Proof in point is her debut novel GOOD IN BED which I loved!) And I did find HUNGRY HEART to be very funny. However, it was her honestly in dealing with the more serious issues in her life that really captured my interest. She delved into her relationship (or lack thereof) with her father, her mother's decision to come out as a lesbian, her weight issues, her divorce, and more!

After finished HUNGRY HEART, I felt as if I understood Ms. Weiner much better; and I even understand her tendency to lash out sometimes on social media. Just because she is a public figure and best-selling author, I guess I assumed that her life was pretty amazing. Don't get me wrong, she does have a pretty great life (as she will admit), but she also dealt with some pretty serious issues in her past that have affected her. And that goes back to my respect for how much she was willing to share in this story. She didn't always portray herself in the best light. Not even close.

When I say that Ms. Weiner was honest in this story, I mean brutally honest. I don't want to portray her as some hero because I suspect that many of her readers will have experienced similar problems; however, I do think that her openness about her challenges might help other women who read HUNGRY HEART. She openly describes some pretty ugly times in her life and how she managed to bounce back. There is no doubt that Ms. Weiner was shaped by the sum of her experiences, and she probably is a better writer as a result.

Overall, I definitely appreciated HUNGRY HEART, and I highly recommend it to her fiction fans as well as other female readers who enjoy a good memoir.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.


bermudaonion said...

Wow, I had no idea she had issues like that in her life. I've only read one or two of her books.

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) said...

I'm reading this right now....just started it and put it aside to read The Mothers, but will go back to it for sure. I haven't read her fiction in a long time, but love her Bachelor commentary on Twitter, which is what got me interested in her memoir.

It's entertaining so far.