The Appetites of Girls
By Pamela Moses
Author’s website: http://pamelamosesbooks.com/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Una
For the audience that made Commencement a New York Times bestseller comes a novel about women making their way in the world.
Four young women are thrown together as roommates freshman year in college: Ruth, Francesca, Opal, and Setsu. Each is striving to overcome struggles from childhood and find her true self.
Tormented by self-doubt, Ruth is coddled by her immigrant mother, who uses food to soothe and control her. Defiant Francesca believes her heavy frame shames her Park Avenue family; to provoke them, and to protect herself, she consumes everything in sight. Opal longs to be included in her glamorous, adventure-seeking mother’s dinner dates—until a disturbing encounter forever changes her desires. Finally, Setsu, a promising violinist, staves off conflict with her jealous older brother by allowing him to take away the choicest morsels from her plate—and from her future.
As their stories and appetites collide, these women make a pact to maintain their friendships into adulthood—but each must first find strength and her way in the world.
Once I started this book I just couldn’t put it down. The way Pamela Moses developed the characters and made them real through descripted character development kept me turning the pages as I became more involved in the girls lives. I loved her writing style.
The story begins with the first day of college when Francesca, Opal, Setsu and Ruth are thrown together as roommates. They are all from different backgrounds but somehow develop a friendship that continues through their college years and beyond. Each girl comes with emotional baggage that affects their relationship with food. As they mature and settle into their adult lives all have to come to terms with their pasts to reach contentment. The book is told from the viewpoints of each of the women as they deal with relationships, mother issues, and self confidence in the process of growing up to be productive and happy adults. By writing the book this way the reader learns what happened in their life before college thus setting the background of why they react the way they do around food, each other and men. I certainly could relate and identify with some of issues they faced.
My favorite character was Setsu who was adopted from Japan and as a teen was a brilliant violinist. Being submissive and shy, she gives up her musical career to avoid conflict with her brother Toru who had always demanded that she give up the best morsels off her plate. She lives her life always trying to please others and trying to live up to their expectations; would she ever be strong enough to be able to stand up for herself and do what she wants?
Francesca comes from a wealthy family who prizes thinness as a great character trait. Overweight most of her life they are ashamed of her and she rebels by eating to excess and balking and protesting at any traditional values.
Opal was the child of a single mother and had always wanted to be included in her mother’s glamorous life; until she is abused by one of her mother’s boyfriends. She then turns to healthy eating and an unrealistic exercise regime, wearing unglamorous clothes to compensate.
Ruth comes from a Jewish background with a dominating mother who uses food to comfort and control her.
The girl’s stories will make you laugh and cry as you grow up with them. I definitely will recommend this book and look forward to other books by Pamela Moses.