Book Review: The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses
Self-doubting Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue society mother and, to provoke her, consumes everything in sight. Lonely Opal longs to be included in her glamorous mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous brother by allowing him to take the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future. College brings the four young women together as suitemates, where their stories and appetites collide. Here they make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood, but each must first find strength and her own way in the world.
The Appetites of Girls follows four women from childhood through early adult-hood. They meet in college, where they are suitemates in their dorm. Each girl has a distinct personality and a distinct relationship with food to go along with it. Two of them eat too much and two eat too little. The four women were well drawn characters. I did wish some of the secondary characters would have been developed more, especially Setsu’s parents. They were just blurry stick figures in my mind. Speaking of Setsu, she was so frustrating – I wanted to beat her about the head and shoulders. I consider it the mark of a good author if a book can stir up strong emotion in me like that, even if it is a negative emotion. I felt strongly for all four of the women in fact and could understand why each of the them turned out the way they did.
The book is organized in chronological order and alternates between each girl’s first person view point. It takes jumps forward in time – first a section from their childhoods, then college and so-on. This was an effective structure that held my interest. It was like I was checking in and catching up with them at each point in their lives.
With four diverse main characters, I think that there will be aspects of one or more of these women that a reader will relate to, making this a book that most everyone should be able to enjoy.
(I received this book courtesy of the publisher.)