Title: Hunger

Author: Roxane Gay

Reviewer: Maria Ryan

Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Gay has written a very compelling memoir of her body and what is like to live inside of it. After a horrific traumatic event suffered at the age of twelve which was relayed to no one, Gay recounts how she made the decision to build a fortress of flesh around herself so large that she could never be hurt again.

As you can imagine, this backfired in numerous ways and has caused a life of pain so profound that unless you have lived similar circumstances, is unfathomable. I could not help arriving at the conclusion several times over while reading that no one would ever choose the hell on earth that Gay has suffered over the years simply by inhabiting a body that is too large for this world yet each time Gay has lost any discernible amount of weight, the weight of vulnerability was too great a hurdle to overcome and she would gain it back again. My heart breaks for her but I want to be clear that I do not feel pity in the sense that I believe she is powerless nor do I believe for a second that that is what she is after.

What happened to her should never happen to anyone and reading her story will hit a visceral nerve that is uniquely ours. Her writing is honest and raw and gritty and real.

I do believe though that the power to be the size we choose rests solely with us and us alone and this book reaffirms that belief for me. In other words, if Gay could become this large, then she can without a doubt lose that weight and become physically smaller. She may never choose to do so and that is her choice. However, even in the retelling of something so horrific, I found a message of hope.

Gay writes about how the bigger you are the more invisible you become however I wonder how many in her life feel that her issues automatically trump theirs, no matter what they are and by that preemptive, she is actually larger than life? What kind of problem could anyone else have or how bad a day could anyone have compared to what she has to live with day in and day out? She has become untouchable and almost otherworldly. For a woman with so many talents and so much to offer, it seems that we all lose out. This was for me, the most tragic revelation. There is more than one way to leave this earth.

Gay does a remarkable job of reminding us just how complicated and complex people are. Throughout Hunger, I couldn’t help wondering what it truly cost her in keeping her secret from her family for so long. This was one of the areas I was most interested in learning more about because though I could understand her motivation from a logical, not having lived her life perspective, I wondered if things would have turned out much differently if she had confided in them early on? I am a firm believer in secrets such as the one she kept being one of the most destructive forces in life. Again, my heart breaks for this woman and I wish her peace and love.

Gay is a gifted writer and luckily for us, has chosen to communicate through the written word.

BRB Rating: Read It.