Diary of a Mad Fat Girl, I thought it was going to be a story about size activism, or maybe about someone dealing with body acceptance issues. What I got instead was wacky, irreverent chick lit, set in Mississippi, about a school teacher with an attitude, a little dog named Buster Loo and an affinity for pizza. Graciela "Ace" Jones and her girlfriends get into outrageous situations and unbelievable predicaments, sometimes involving wearing wigs and men's dresses and getting arrested outside of a strip club.
I don't think I need to tell you that this book was stuffed full of everything I hate about the publishing industry.
I once wrote a letter to Tawni O'Dell. She and I are both from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, and we both have written books set there. (Hers are published and wildly acclaimed. Mine is sitting on a flash drive in my desk drawer.) I asked her for advice. I told her I feel like the publishing industry wants books about high heels and dating and martinis. I told her I feel like I'll never find my place.
She said, "Keep in mind that those “really
smart and inspiring” women who write about wine and fabulous shoes aren’t
artists. They’re businesswomen whose business happens to be writing. They write
to make money; I write because I have a story to tell. I also happen to make a
living with my writing but making a living is not the reason I write."
Reading this advice made me feel validated. It made me feel like, "Yes. I get this. I believe in this."
So, what does this have to do with BlogHer's Book Club selection?
Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is not a gritty, tough book. It isn't a piece of fine literature. It isn't going to change any lives or give anybody comfort. It's not going to make the world a better place. It's exactly the sort of book I complain about; a book about fabulous women and hunky men having moderately sexy adventures while wearing cute spring dresses and eating ice cream when they're feeling sad. It is everything I bemoan about the world of books.
And I liked reading it.
I didn't want to. I tried not to.
In the end, I couldn't help but look forward to getting a chance to curl up in bed and find out what kooky predicaments Ace and her friends would get into next. Diary of a Mad Fat Girl is fun, sunny and mindless. Ace Jones is brash and bold, with guts to match her appetite. Her struggle with fitting into her jeans is somehow even charming, instead of insulting. Maybe it's because she never achieves the body of her dreams, even as she gets the man and casts off the trappings of her life and decides to follow her dream. Maybe it's because I have a soft spot for southern stories. Maybe it's because I read this book in the middle of a Pennsylvania winter and Ace's walks in the park and drinks on the patio sounded so... warm.
Whatever it was, Diary of a Mad Fat Girl contained some kind of magic in spite of being a prime example of brainless chick lit. While I can't recommend it outright and keep my dignity in tact, I will hold my hand up to my mouth and whisper to you that it is actually kind of good. It is definitely fun. I believe that you might even like it.
Head over to BlogHer's Book Club to find out what the rest of the bloggers thought and learn more about Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee.
I was paid to review this book because my opinions are honest and awesome, just like the one represented here.