Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book Review: "Hungry Heart" by Jennifer Weiner

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing Jennifer Weiner
Published: October 11, 2016
ISBN: 9781476723402
Genre: Memoir
Source: Personal Copy
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Jennifer Weiner's novels, feminist memoirs, books about body image, books about writers, humorous memoirs

Jennifer Weiner is many things: a #1 New York Times 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 cyclist; a best friend and a reality TV junkie. In her first foray into nonfiction, she takes the raw stuff of her personal life and spins into a collection of essays on modern womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Tina Fey, Fran Lebowitz, and Nora Ephron.

Jennifer grew up as an outsider in her picturesque Connecticut hometown (“a Lane Bryant outtake in an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot”) and at her Ivy League college, but finally found her people in newsrooms in central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, and her voice as a novelist, activist, and New York Times columnist.

No subject is off-limits in this intimate and honest essay collection: sex, weight, envy, money, her mom’s newfound lesbianism, and her estranged father’s death. From lonely adolescence to modern childbirth to hearing her six-year-old daughter’s use of the f-word—fat­­—for the first time, Jennifer Weiner goes there, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

By turns hilarious and deeply touching, this collection shows that the woman behind treasured novels like Good in Bed and Best Friends Forever is every bit as winning, smart, and honest in real life as she is in her fiction. 

My Thoughts:
Jennifer Weiner, oh how I love thee!  I've read most of her novels (there was one that slipped that slipped by me, but it's definitely on the TBR short list) and, when I heard she was coming out with a memoir, I immediately pre-ordered it.  As soon as it arrived, I immediately dug in (despite my mother's snarky facebook comments on my selfie with the book...sigh!).

The first half or so of the book is purely biographical.  If you've read Weiner's first novel, Good in Bed, you'll easily see the inspiration.  And that is okay--Weiner has always acknowledged that her debut novel is semi-autobiographical and it is fascinating to see the reality line up with the fiction.

I think I identified most with the "young" Jennifer Weiner.  I related to many of the trials she faced as a teenager and I wish that I had had her moxie to deal with them.  For those of us who struggled with self-esteem and confidence, her story is an inspiration.

The second part of the book reads more like a collection of essays.  In this section, she addresses everything from her love affair with Twitter to Miss America to her experience with miscarriage.  All are written with the humor and sensitivity one expects from Jennifer Wiener.  I found the essay where she addresses the first time her daughter says the F word (not THAT F word, the other one--"Fat") to be especially thoughtful and poignant.

As I said, I'm a Jennifer Weiner uber-fan, so the fact that I absolutely loved this book is no surprise.  However, I don't think you need to be a Weiner fan, or even have read her novels, to enjoy this memoir.  Weiner's humanity and humor shine through and make it a worthwhile read for anyone.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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