Fat Girl: A True Story [NOOK Book]

Overview

For any woman who has ever had a love/hate relationship with food and with how she looks; for anyone who has knowingly or unconsciously used food to try to fill the hole in his heart or soothe the craggy edges of his psyche, Fat Girl is a brilliantly rendered, angst-filled coming-of-age story of gain and loss. From the lush descriptions of food that call to mind the writings of M.F.K. Fisher at her finest, to the heartbreaking accounts of Moore’s deep longing for family and a sense of belonging and love, Fat Girl...
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Fat Girl: A True Story

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Overview

For any woman who has ever had a love/hate relationship with food and with how she looks; for anyone who has knowingly or unconsciously used food to try to fill the hole in his heart or soothe the craggy edges of his psyche, Fat Girl is a brilliantly rendered, angst-filled coming-of-age story of gain and loss. From the lush descriptions of food that call to mind the writings of M.F.K. Fisher at her finest, to the heartbreaking accounts of Moore’s deep longing for family and a sense of belonging and love, Fat Girl stuns and shocks, saddens and tickles.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The first chapter of Fat Girl: A True Story carries the an epigraph by Mark Doty: "Even sad stories are company. And perhaps that's why you would read such a chronicle, to look into a companionable darkness that isn't your own." These words might stand as the emblem for this angry, stark, painfully honest memoir. Judith Moore's unflinching exploration of her own lifelong weight problems never slip into mawkish self-pity or self-caricature. As Augusten Burroughs noted, this is "a slap-in the face of a book-courageous, heartbreaking, fascinating, and darkly funny."
Jane Stern
Judith Moore's book just might be the Stonewall for a slew of oversize people who do not fit the template of what every ostensible expert on beauty, health and nutrition tells us we should strive to be. Fat Girl is brilliant and angry and unsettling.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In her memoir of growing up fat, Moore, who previously wrote about food in Never Eat Your Heart Out, employs her edgy, refreshingly candid voice to tell the story of a little girl who weighed 112 pounds in second grade; whose father abandoned her to a raging, wicked mother straight out of the Brothers Grimm; whose lifelong dieting endeavors failed as miserably as her childhood attempts to find love at home. As relentless as this catalogue of beatings, humiliation and self-loathing can be, it's tolerable-even inspiring in places-because Moore pulls it off without a glimmer of self-pity. The book does have some high points, especially while Moore is stashed at the home of a kind uncle who harbors his own secrets, but the happiest moments are tinged with dread. Who can help wondering what will become of this tortured and miserable child? Alas, Moore cuts her story short after briefly touching on an unsatisfying reunion with her father and her two failed marriages. The ending feels hurried, but perhaps the publication of this book will give Moore's story the happy ending she deserves. Agent, Sarah Chalfant. (On sale Mar. 3) Forecast: Having received advance praise from David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, Moore could get substantial review coverage. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Author of the noted culinary-themed memoir Never Eat Your Heart Out, Moore once again turns her pen inward. Warning readers not to expect a "triumphant" ending and requesting that they not feel sorry for her, she chronicles her obsession with food, her abusive mother, and never being one of the "picture pretty" girls. She admits: "I hate myself because I am not beautiful. I hate myself because I am fat." Thus Fat Girl may be a cathartic exercise for Moore, but it is obvious that she has not succeeded in exorcising her demons; indeed, at the end we know she is "still hungry," still striving to fill a void. Nevertheless, Moore's tale is honest, engaging, and well crafted, if a little depressing; readers like her, who have "know[n] so many diets," been called "fatso," or survived a loveless childhood, will relate and find solace. Conversely, those wary of living-in-the-past confessionals should steer clear. Recommended for public libraries.-Heather O'Brien, Ph.D. candidate, Dalhousie Univ., Halifax, N.S. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Grim exploration of the author's wretched childhood and consequent lifelong relationship with food. Moore (Never Eat Your Heart Out, 1996) had it rough as a girl. Abandoned by her father at age three-and-a-half, she was left to the mercy of a vicious, violent mother and a possibly sociopathic grandmother. These loveless formative years had a lasting impact: "I hate myself. I have almost always hated myself." After this introduction and a long consideration of her heavy, adult body and its impact on her life, Moore begins piecing together her past. Prominently featured are the parents who quickly divorced, resulting in long stretches of loneliness for Moore in Oklahoma and New York City. Self-pity might seem all but unavoidable in discussing such circumstances, but the tone here, rather than confessional or exculpatory, has the ring of the analytical. As the author relates the trials she endured-just how fat she was, how her clothing fit, how she started each school year scanning the schoolroom for a classmate heavier than she-the episodes come together to make up a work that could be an anthropological study of the habits of obese children, or a psychological study of the effect of lovelessness on a child's development. Moore is matter-of-fact in describing childhood beatings; nor does she spare herself, confessing childhood misdeeds that included entering the homes of adults she admired and repeatedly raiding their pantries. Her greatest and most constant love is, of course, food. Here, she offers pages of unctuous descriptions of the texture of a cheeseburger, the composition of a dinner party menu, or the southern-fried feasts she imagines her father devouring as a young man. Moorewarns the reader not to expect a triumphant ending, and she's true to her word, though her book is strongly written and starkly compelling to the end.
From the Publisher
“Frank, often funny—intelligent and entertaining.”—Vick Boughton, People (four out of four stars) “Moore’s unflinching memoir sets a new standard for literature about women and their bodies. Grade:A.”—Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly (editor’s choice) “Searingly honest without affectation . . . Moore emerged fromher hellish upbringing as a kind of softer Diane Arbus, wielding pen instead of camera.”—Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, The Seattle Times “Stark . . . lyrical, and often funny, Judith Moore ambushes you on the very first page, and in short order has lifted you up and broken your heart.”—Peg Tyre, Newsweek “God, I love this book. It is wise, funny, painful, revealing, and profoundly honest.”—Anne Lamott “Judith Moore grabs the reader by the collar, and shakes up our notion of life in the fat lane.”—David Sedaris “A slap-in-the-face of a book—courageous, heartbreaking, fascinating, and darkly funny.”—Augusten Burroughs
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101213247
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/3/2005
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 123,755
  • File size: 638 KB

Meet the Author

Judith Moore, recipient of two National Endowments for the Arts and a Guggenheim fellowship, is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Never Eat Your Heart Out, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Moore is the books editor and senior editor for The San Diego Reader and lives in Berkeley, California.
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First Chapter

Fat Girl

A True Story
By Judith Moore

Hudson Street Press

ISBN: 1-594-63009-7


Chapter One

I am fat. I am not so fat that I can't fasten the seatbelt on the plane. But, fat I am. I wanted to write about what it was and is like for me, being fat.

This will not be a book about how I had an eating disorder and how I conquered this disorder through therapies or group process or antidepressants or religion or twelve-step programs or a personal trainer or white knuckling it or the love of a good man (or woman). This will be the last time in this book you will see the words "eating disorder." I am not a fat activist. This is not about the need for acceptance of fat people, although I would prefer that thinner people not find me disgusting.

I know, from being thin and listening to thin people talk about fat people, that thin people often denigrate fat people. At best, they feel sorry for them. I know too that when a thin person looks at a fat person, the thin person considers the fat person less virtuous than he. The fat person lacks willpower, pride, this wretched attitude, "self esteem," and does not care about friends or family because if he or she did care about friends or family, he or she would not wander the earth looking like a repulsive sow, rhinoceros, hippo, elephant, general wide-mawed flesh-flopping flabby monster.

I will not write here about fat people I have known and I will not interview fat people. All I will do here is tell my story. I will not supply windbag notions about what's wrong with me. You will figure that out. I will tell you only what I know about myself, which is not all that much.

Narrators of first-person claptrap like this often greet the reader at the door with moist hugs and complaisant kisses. I won't. I will not endear myself. I won't put on airs. I am not that pleasant. The older I get the less pleasant I am.

I mistrust real-life stories that conclude on a triumphant note. Rockettes will not arrive on the final page and kick up their high heels and show petticoats. This is a story about an unhappy fat girl who became a fat woman who was happy and unhappy.

But I haven't always been fat. I had days when I was almost thin.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Fat Girl by Judith Moore Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
A nonfiction She’s Come Undone, Fat Girl is a powerfully honest and darkly riveting memoir of obsession with food and body image, penned by a Guggenheim and NEA award-winning writer. For any woman who’s ever had a love/hate relationship with food and with how she looks, for anyone who’s ever knowingly or unconsciously used food to fill a hole in his heart, Fat Girl is a brilliantly rendered, angst-filled coming-of-age story of gain and loss.

ABOUT JUDITH MOORE

Judith Moore, recipient of two National Endowments for the Arts and a Guggenheim fellowship, is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Never Eat Your Heart Out, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Moore is the books editor and senior editor for The San Diego Reader and lives in Berkeley, California.

A CONVERSATION WITH JUDITH MOORE

Why did you feel yours was an important story to tell?

I never think about a story I want to write as important or not important. What IS important to me is that a story I write longs to be told. What eventually became the book, Fat Girl, repeatedly said, “Write me. Tell my secrets.”

I was interested in telling truths about the body –not only the “fat” body—that are not often written. Much on my mind were two memories. One was something Lillian Hellman wrote, I believe in Pentimento—that Dashiell Hammett objected to her “feminine odors.” Hellman was criticized for even mentioning these odors. Or this is how I remember the story. Perhaps I remember it incorrectly.

The other memory was this. When I first started writing, an old friend, a wise old friend, sent me a postcard onto which he’d copied something Adrienne Rich wrote: "The dutiful daughter of the fathers is only a hack."

I may be a hack, but I didn’t and don’t want to be one.

I was interested in how to set the story that became Fat Girl. I wanted the story to sound told rather than written, whispered into an ear. I wanted the book to be a confessional box and for the reader to be the narrator’s confessor.

I wanted the book to be short. I wanted a reader to be able to read it in an evening or afternoon.

Who or what motivated you to tell it?

I wanted to honor the fat girl within me and other heavy or once-heavy men and women and tell a truth not often told. Many “truths” told about fatness celebrate fatness’s brighter side—weight loss, jolliness, an almost religious struggle “to lose.”

Many of the reviews for this book speak of your bravery and courage in telling your story. Do you feel that writing this book took bravery?

No, writing this book took the usual bravery that first drafts take. You just have to sit there and get the words down on paper. Writing first drafts, for me, takes almost physical courage. I have to make myself stay at the computer or the notebook. When I find myself wanting to run from my work (which, in fact, is only a disinclination to face facts), I set a timer. I may set the timer to as short a time as thirty minutes. During those minutes I tell myself, “No answering of phones, no looking out windows, no twiddling through a poetry anthology or a magazine, write.” This helps.

When I begin first drafts I type atop the screen or write on the top margin of paper: DON’T WRITE WRITING. SPEAK FROM THE HEART. TALK TO THE PAGE.

Sometimes I go to my knees and pray. The prayer runs something like this, “God, give me a sentence that will get someone through the night. Give me something that’s more true than true. Give me something that isn’t specious, that is durable and doesn’t fray. Give me something I would not be ashamed to show someone who knew he had six months to live.”

Which parts of the story were most difficult for you to put down on paper?

The section where I broke into the Fisher’s house. When one of my friends, a therapist, read Fat Girl, he said, “Chapter Fourteen was creepy.” I knew when I was rustling through the Fisher house and making bologna sandwiches that what I was doing was “creepy” and I knew when I wrote down that I’d spread mustard on bread for those sandwiches and eaten them and pretended that I was part of the Fisher family that other people would also find those afternoons in the Fisher’s house creepy.

In what ways have you learned to cope with issues from your childhood now that you are an adult?

This is difficult.

People ask me if I beat my children. I didn’t. I didn’t yell at them. We gardened and cooked and canned and made paper dolls and doll houses. We raised generations of guinea pigs. We all had dogs. I read aloud to the girls, probably more than they wanted me to do. I guess that what we did was a lot of what I wished my mother had done with me. I was a terrific cook and gardener. We grew much of our own food, we preserved it. We grew flowers and house plants. I was an awful seamstress; I made dresses for the girls that fell apart in the washing machine. I was a fair-to-middling housewife. My daughters’ childhoods are my happiest memories.

I do not cope all that well with much of “life.” As Freud had it, love (eros) and work (unalienated labor) are the fundamental aspects of adulthood. I am good at work and not good at love. I am extremely responsible. I have worked for the same organization for 21 years. I am dependable, consistent, thorough. I am imaginative and quick and collegial, working well with others.

In love between men and women I am not so good. Physical intimacies scare me. Although I have close friendships with straight and gay men, I have remained celibate for many years. I cannot cope with romance.

I am “high-strung” and easily frightened. I jump when horns honk or a glass falls from a café table; like many beaten children, I exhibit a high startle reflex. I only feel truly safe when I am alone, another trait of badly beaten children. Deep down I am always afraid of being slapped or kicked. I never have slept well. I fear abandonment. I manage transitions poorly. I’m a mess.

I have had much therapy. The therapy did help me cope with who I am and how I feel. But my past is my past, and my past—a dirty hem on a long skirt—trails along with me.

I would guess that I do not see myself all that clearly. I would guess too, that, truth told, I am at least mildly what we used to speak of as “mentally ill.”

What are you working on now?

A book that is giving me the usual trouble. However, I enjoy the trouble. I am grateful for the work.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • Why do you think the author wrote this memoir? Besides trouble with weight, what more universal issues are discussed in the book?
     
  • How does Judith’s parent’s abandoning her with her grandmother affect the rest of her life? What damage does her grandmother do to her, both psychologically and physically?
     
  • Why do you think Judith’s mother has so much animosity towards her daughter? As a child, Judith believes that her mother would love her more if she were thin. Do you think that is true? Could Judith have done anything to please her mother?
     
  • Judith feels ashamed much of the time, even when she is very young. Where do these feelings of shame come from? In what ways does society make people feel ashamed of what they cannot control? In what other situations do we blame the victim?
     
  • In what ways do Judith’s mother and grandmother vilify Judith’s father? Why do they try so hard to make her hate him?
     
  • Why is Judith easy prey for bullies at school and the pedophile in the movie theatre? What about her as a child causes her to be victimized? Do you think she is an easy target? Why or why not?
     
  • Discuss the father figures that Judith latches on to throughout her life. What is she looking for in each of these men? Where else does she look for love and affection that she can’t find at home?
     
  • Consider Uncle Carl. Why does she tell the story of the chartreuse party? What does it signify? What does Uncle Carl offer Judith that no one else does? Why is his home more comfortable for her than anywhere else she lives?
     
  • How did you feel when Judith’s grandmother died? Why does Judith, herself, feel so little? Were you surprised by her reaction to her grandmother’s illness?
     
  • Judith breaks into two different homes: June’s apartment and the Fisher’s house. Why does she do this? What does she find in each of these homes that she can’t find in her own?
     
  • What does Judith learn about herself when she finally meets her father? Why does her meeting him change her relationship with her mother?
     
  • Judith writes that missing her father and feeling unloved by her mother caused her to eat, that she was filling a hole within herself that should have been filled by her parents’ love. Do you agree with that? Besides food, how else does she try to fill that void?
     
  • In the Introduction, Judith writes, “I know, from being thin and listening to thin people talk about fat people, that thin people often denigrate fat people. At best, they pity them.” Do you agree with this statement? As you read her story, did you pity Judith? Why or why not?
     
  • Discuss Judith’s adult relationships with men. Do you think it’s possible for someone with her childhood to ever be comfortable with love? With herself?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 67 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(12)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 67 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    Great Book

    The book Fat Girl by Judith Moore is about a girl who is fat and what her life is like growing up known as "Fat Girl". She experiences what it feels like to have her parents be divorced, and live with her mother through her childhood. The girl's mother divorced her father because he would not stop getting fat. When the girl lived with her mother she was always being scolded about her weight. "When I stood close to her so she could measure my waist or pin up the hem to my dress, she pinched me hard and flicked me with her fingernail and hissed again and again how disgusted she was. She said I looked ugly and that boys and girls at my school would keep on teasing me," (Moore 86). Not only was her mother malicious but also the peers in her class.
    The book was really heartbreaking that ever since childhood the main character has been hurt physically and mentally. It's surprising that people can act towards another person with cruelty just because they look different. I hope that people will read this book so that mankind will stop judging people on appearances. It is a good book to learn about how people are being mistreated everyday about the littlest things. But the thing I didn't like about this book was that it talked about food a lot, with a great deal of detail. Other than the food the book was a great read.

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    COOL;)

    I am 11 years old and i liked this book because well i am a fatass . Do not judge me but i am 11 and i weigh 140 pounds this book spoke to me .

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2007

    That fat girl was me!

    I didn't have all of the challenges that the author did, but soo soo many of us grew up overweight, and being beat up emotionally for it 'even by ourselves'. This is a book that says, 'you weren't alone!'. I have to say, please go read a book that spoke so crystal clearly to me---'Build Your Mind, Your Body Will Follow'. It tells how to feel good about yourself, no matter how you look, and then how to start changing in a positive way! These 2 books should be a 1-2 punch!

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A true story, indeed

    Fat Girl is a sad story about an overweight woman who went through obstacles from childhood to adulthood. I like the way Ms. Moore explains her thoughts in a warm, sedate kind of way that the reader can familiarize.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2007

    eye opening book !

    this is the true story of a girl who grew up overweight, beaten, lost and depressed. it tells you all the details you may never have thought about, and tells the engrossing truth about it all. i would recommend this book NOT ONLY to someone who has been, or is overweight, but to anyone, skinny or fat. so that they could also start to see how miserable it is to be overweight. i feel for this girl !! i am 17 and would recommend this book to anyone 13 and up.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2009

    This book wasn't the best

    The book Fat Girl is a story that after I read it I wish I hadn't. Judith Moore should cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it."

    4 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Amazing

    I read this book in order to look for a piece for highschool forensics (competitive speaking) in the solo-serious acting catagory. I have had amazing results from my cutting from this book. I highly recommend reading this startling and honest memoir.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2005

    True to life..

    This book really hits home. Although I wasn't a 'fat' child I did get bigger later on in life. But the same feelings surface at any age. She described a lot of problems bigger people have, from chaffing legs, to never exposing certain parts of your body. Anyone who has an overweight child should read this book. The insight will be very valuable. Life is tough enough to tackle, when you add weight, you don't even get to the life part because the weight consumes you. Take note.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    ?.....

    Love it havent read it but heared it was really giod

    2 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    a decent read

    props to Judith Moore for opening up and writing on a topic that is so personal. however, to be honest, it wasn't quite what i was expecting. while i understand that describing her family was a vital part of understanding her background/environment, i think she may have gone a bit overkill, and it wasn't until the last 40-50 pages that she started talking about herself a lot vs. her family. i don't know... not bad, but not as good as i was expecting.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was popular a while back, and I read it then. Now, evidently more have discovered it. Why more is not made of family dysfuction/abuse and overweight children is beyond me. FAT GIRL is not the happy ending you might expect, but it will open your eyes to why you do the things you do regarding food and relationships.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Me to

    I have heard so many good things about this book. As i was growing up i was a fat and chuby little girl and people made fun of me all the time. So i can kind of feel how this little girl is feeling. And my mom and dad got a devorice when i was about 3 years old so i know what it feels like experancing and haveing your mom and dad geting a devorice. But we should not make fun of people like that. I am going to read thos book and i hope you all will to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Vivid, honest.

    This book was honest in the most visceral sense. If you have ever been overweight or just felt bad about yourself this book will show you you're not alone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    Sweet

    She has a sexey but

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2007

    Awsome

    This book was one of the most well written, take my breath away book. One of the best books I have read in a long time

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    True to life story

    This book was depressing and sad, but it was so honest. I was fat as a child and teen too and still struggle everyday to keep the weight off. I can relate to dreaming of food, having to find double digit sizes, feeling ugly and undateable. This book made me relive so many sad memories of my younger years that I work hard to not think about. So many young kids are obese nowadays, they all go through this torment and shame and then the cycle continues into adulthood.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2007

    Opens your eyes to childhood cruelty

    'Fat Girl' is one book that I won't ever forget. Judith Moore endured a childhood so filled with pain it brought tears to my eyes. I was so happy she had a nice uncle to give her some sense of love. I was not fat as a child, but have put on weight after having children, and now I understand the difficulty of taking the weight off. This book is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Absolutely could not put it down. Now I want to read Moore's other memoir. If it's anything like this, I will love it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2006

    Courageous Memoir by Moore

    Memoirs don't get much more frank than this. Judith Moore's Fat Girl: A True Story is an anti-sentimental journey through the life of a fat woman. Do not read this to feel better about your size. Read this because you want company.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2005

    Couragious Genius

    Judith Moore leads other readers into a cathartic experience regarding childhood demons. Her outstanding courage and poignant honesty lessened the childhood pain in my heart.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2005

    Completely engrossing

    I purchased this book yesterday. I picked it up this morning and could not put it down until I finished it! An absolutely haunting memoir.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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