Adult Summer Reading Book Reviews

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

by Mona Awad

Adult Summer Reading 2018

Review by Aimee Shaffer of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad

Lizzie chronicles her experiences as a "fat" teen and adult and the havoc that trying to be thin wreaks on her psyche and relationships. From promiscuity, drugs, and divorce to a final, hard won acceptance of her body, this book is relatable on so many levels for anyone of any age struggling with body image. When I initially began reading I was not captivated but it didn't take long for me to find myself overcome with various emotions while reading of Lizzie's ongoing inner turmoil. I would recommend this book but with a warning that it is very raw and somewhat startling at times, so read with caution.

The Girls

by Lori Lansens

Adult Summer Reading 2017

Review by Vicki Owen of The Girls by Lori Lansens

Great book, but wish it gave more at the end. The characters of the book were so alive, I loved how the author made it like you could see them telling the story themselves. I read this book like in a week, but I have kids. Loved it!!!! Give it five stars.

The Girls in the Picture

by Melanie Benjamin

Adult Book Review

The Review of The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin by Susan Sutton

Frances Marion was Hollywood’s leading – and highest paid – screenwriter. Mary Pickford was America’s sweetheart, “the girl with the curls,” star of silent film whose fame spread around the world. In her newest book, The Girls in the Picture, bestselling author Melanie Benjamin weaves the story of these two women, exploring the complexity of their profound and sometimes tumultuous friendship, the ups and downs of their careers, and the birth of the movie age.

The film industry is the fulcrum of the relationship between Frances and Mary, and it helps us understand the bond that they shared. Both women adored the movies – not only the end product, but every aspect of the filmmaking process. Their shared passion helped bring them together, particularly since Frances focused on writing and Mary did not see her as a direct competitor for roles or attention.

But the two friends also ran into many challenges, including societal norms that told them they should be at home raising children and cooking dinners for their husbands, and the necessity of navigating a condescending and oftentimes antagonistic male-dominated industry. The real strength of The Girls in the Picture lies in Benjamin’s skill for highlighting the similarities and differences between Frances and Mary, and showing how each supported, encouraged, and even misunderstood the other.

It’s not at all necessary to be a film historian or even a movie fan in order to appreciate this lovely book. I did enjoy learning some tidbits about the early industry, though. For example, I had no idea that the term “movie” was originally used to describe people who had moved to Los Angeles in order to work on “flickers” (what we now call movies). It’s also fascinating to consider how movie stars, who are idolized in our modern-day society, were considered sordid and disreputable in the early 20th century. In fact, it was Mary who first experienced the kind of star worship we see today. Though Mary ultimately became quite popular in her own right, her marriage to another screen legend, Douglas Fairbanks, propelled the couple to super-stardom. This level of fame upended Mary’s lifestyle completely, eventually causing a rift in her friendship with Frances.

At the beginning of the book, Frances is quoted as saying, “Perhaps the simplest formula for a plot is: invent some colorful personalities, involve them in an apparently hopeless complication or predicament, then extricate them in a logical and dramatic way that brings them happiness.” With The Girls in the Picture, Benjamin shows us that real life is much more beautiful and dramatic – and oftentimes tragic – than the movies.