13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Mona Awad's novel was shortlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Mona Awad

Growing up in the suburban hell of Misery Saga (a.k.a. Mississauga), Lizzie has never liked the way she looks — even though her best friend Mel says she's the pretty one. She starts dating guys online, but she's afraid to send pictures, even when her skinny friend China does her makeup: she knows no one would want her if they could really see her. So she starts to lose. With punishing drive, she counts almonds consumed, miles logged, pounds dropped. She fights her way into coveted dresses. She grows up and gets thin, navigating double-edged validation from her mother, her friends, her husband, her reflection in the mirror. But no matter how much she loses, will she ever see herself as anything other than a fat girl? (From Penguin Canada

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl was shortlisted for the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

From the book

Despite my better judgment, I'm in the fitting room wrestling with the von Furstenberg again. I've thrown it over my head and I'm attempting to wedge my arms through the armholes even though it's got my shoulders and rib cage in a vise grip. The fabric's stretched tight over my face so I can't see and it's blocking my air supply but I'm doing my best to breathe through twill. This is the moment of deepest despair. This is the moment she always chooses to knock on the door.

I can hear the slow-approaching clicks of her heels. Three light raps on the door with her opal-encrusted knuckles. I brace myself for the sound of her voice, all of my nerve endings like cats ready to pounce. When she speaks, I hear her disdain, bright as a bell.

"How are we doing in here?"

We. She means me and the von Furstenberg. The von Furstenberg and I. She saw me out of the corner of her exquisitely lined eye going to the back of the store to retrieve it between the frigid Eileen Fishers and the smug Max Azrias and she disapproves. She knows the von Furstenberg is a separate entity, that it and I will never be one.

From 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad ©2016. Published by Penguin Canada.


Mona Awad talks about her debut novel, an unflinching exploration of how weight and body image affect a teen girl's sense of self.


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