Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Hungry Heart," by Jennifer Weiner

I truly admire Jennifer Weiner’s candor, gutsiness, and courage, as well as her humor. She is now known not only for her bestselling fiction, but for speaking up on a number of issues, most notably the uneven (OK, unequal, unfair) treatment of women writers, in terms of fewer and more negative reviews, condescending attitudes of critics and others, and more. She has been attacked for, and mocked for (including obscene and horrible comments by the now-ubiquitous trolls on the Internet), speaking out, but she doesn’t let that stop her. The New Yorker has called her “an unlikely feminist enforcer,” and I say “Brava!” to that! Her new book, “Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing” (Atria, 2016), is billed as a memoir, and it is that, albeit in the form of a series of connected essays, some previously published. She exposes her most difficult experiences and feelings, in order to make readers, especially women, realize they are not alone, and in order to give them hope. She also writes of overcoming problems, as well as of her personal and professional successes. This all sounds very self-help-ish, but Weiner’s gift is to be able to tell her stories with self-awareness, humor, and even joy. Her topics include her lifelong struggle with her weight (and with the ways she has been criticized and even insulted for it, especially as she became a prominent writer and public personality); the ups and downs of her love life; being a mother; writing what she proudly acknowledges is women’s literature, even “chick lit,” but the dismissal of which she fights against; aging; and much more. She offers heartfelt advice to her readers, with a caring tone but a light touch. This memoir, like her novels, is entertaining, accessible, authentic, generous, and engaging. I love her bravery and her “realness.”
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