Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: dieting, mental illness, bullying, emotional trauma.
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
You guys, I have been watching for this book to come into my life for ages. After reading Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, and then seeing that Baker was going to write another book, I was eagerly anticipating it’s release. When it finally came out, I was hoping that the library would pick up the audiobook since I really wanted to physically hear Jes tell her story, but I waited and nothing. Figuring I waited long enough, I just decided to grab a hard copy and dove in.
Landwhale is a memoir of Baker’s life experiences dealing with some of the big things that she struggled with in her life, such as: dealing with mental illness and PCOS; learning to liberate her body; falling in love and navigating the relationship; relationship problems with her father; and names that have been hurled at her for because of her appearance. In true Baker fashion, she addresses everything conversationally and without apology. She even starts off the book with a disclaimer:
“…a Hey, I’m writing about real life, and real life can occasionally be difficult, so please be gentle with your heart while flipping through these pages was in order. So in the spirit of transparency, I offer you this insider tip: The book you’re holding? It’s basically one long-ass trigger.”
As I read, I empathized with many of Baker’s experiences, and felt nothing but compassion and respect for her as she just opened her heart and poured it into her writing. I teared up many times, but she always saved me from full out crying with a well timed joke, comment, or footnote. But before you go thinking the book is entirely heartbreaking, I will add that there are so many clever retorts and fantastic information that can be applied to your own personal situations. Gems that I flagged include:
“My jean size doesn’t have anything to do with my value as a human.” (pg 46)
“”Never forget that you’re the love of my life, okay?” he said as he kissed my forehead. I nodded and continued to hug him while he put in earplugs, because no matter how sexy I may be, I snore like a motherfucker.” (pg 135)
“There is power in taking up space. There is power in challenging social norms. There is power in being fat and daring to exist. Every day I live my life, I’m winning.” (pg 223)
(Photo Credit: Jes Baker, Google Images)
I also laughed and cheered when it came to learning more about the book’s title and how Baker changed the insulting names back to their original meaning, or even acceptably cute nicknames! As a fellow fatty, I too have been called a myriad of insulting names that for the most part I let roll off me, but there have been a handful of situations where I felt completely demolished by hurt and shame. Now, I can look at some of those situations (that have stuck with me, and probably will for a long time) and see that the person flinging the insults is someone with their own insecurities who found an easy target to take their frustrations out upon. It’s still not okay, but having someone give you the tools and the ability to get perspective on those situations holds a lot a value, in my opinion.
Within Landwhale, Baker lists at least a half dozen body image role models (that I promptly searched for & followed on Instagram), countless pointers on how to shut down the “have you tried dieting?” conversation, and a dozen pros (and cons) to loving your body. It’s 253 pages of raw emotion and advice, and I strongly suggest you buy yourself a copy this instant. Also, if you want to read more from Baker, check out her blog here.
TL/DR: Landwhale by Jes Baker is a memoir about a woman’s struggle with her past and body acceptance, and how she came to love herself.
Read it? YES- oh my gosh, a thousand times yes.
Recommend it? Yes- I recommend her books so much, you’d think I was paid by Baker (I’m not, lol, but seriously I just love her books.)
Buy it? Yes, and a few extra copies for your friends.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker
- Shrill by Lindy West
- Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons