This is another of Higgins’ more recent non-romance novels. Of course, there is romance in it—two in fact—but it isn’t the focus of the book. Instead, the novel deals with how incredibly difficult it is to accept yourself and be happy when you’re a woman in America who didn’t win the gene lottery in the body size department.
The book is mostly about Georgia and Marley and their relationship each other, their weight, and their friend Emerson, who dies at the beginning after becoming so large she’s housebound. The three of them met at weight-loss camp when they were teenagers and became best friends, but their lives took Emerson a different direction while Marley and Georgia actually share a house (Marley rents an apartment from Georgia in the same house).
Georgia is a pre-school teacher now, but went to Yale Law and used to be a successful New York lawyer. She also was previously married to the perfect man, Rafe, but basically ruined that marriage with her low self-confidence and eating issues. Marley is a professional she who runs her own business, delivering meals to people who don’t have time to cook. She has never been on a date, despite being a charming and happy person. She had a twin who died at four and she and her whole family have never gotten over it.
Georgia and Marley are both very likable and I definitely could empathize with their weight and food issues. Georgia has actually lost a bunch of weight but she’s having some stomach issues that she’s ignoring despite knowing better. Marley is half in love with a firefighter named Camden she knows through her brother. He sleeps with her occasionally but wants to keep it on the down low.
When Emerson dies, she leaves them with a task: carry out all the activities on a list they made when they were teens. The list was basically what they all wanted to do once they were skinny enough.
- Hold hands with a cute guy in public.
- Go running in tight clothes and a sports bra.
- Get a piggyback ride from a guy.
- Be in a photo shoot.
- Eat dessert in public.
- Tuck in a shirt.
- Shop at a store for regular people.
- Have a cute stranger buy you a drink at a bar.
- Go home to meet his parents.
- Tell off the people who judged us when we were fat.
Most of these I’ve personally never done and never will and a lot of fat women will feel the same (I have guiltily eaten dessert in public, knowing I’m being judged, and I did a photo shoot for my author photos, which was very, very uncomfortable for me).
Although she’s dead, Emerson appears throughout the story through her journals (which the two other women eventually get, so it works). She’s got a great voice even while she’s self-destructing. She makes meaningful observations like the following:
Sometimes I see girls running in their sports bras and tiny pairs of shorts, their stomachs flat, their breasts high and snug, and it’s like they’re another species.
I know what she means. Fat women are treated like a third gender.
So there’s a lot going on in this book, which is balanced pretty evenly between Marley and Georgia with a little Emerson thrown in. It takes place almost exclusively in the present. There are some other great characters in the story, too. I particularly love Georgia’s nephew Mason, who is actually believable as a sweet and oblivious 14-year-old. And Mason’s father, Georgia’s brother, is also great as a positively horrible human being. Georgia’s other family is good too, and Marley’s from a big, loving Italian family full of different personalities.
Higgins successfully pulls at the heartstrings again with this one. Fans of hers will like it, but I think it would also resonate with a lot of fat women who may not have read her yet.