Diary of a Mad Fat Girl
Stephanie McAfee's debut novel will leave you breathless from laughter and relating. Ace Jones' sharp wit (and uncanny inability to keep her real feelings from transforming into spoken words) is constantly at the forefront. She says what others are thinking, sometimes to their dismay, but it's hard to dislike her. From her love of her chiweenie Sir Buster Loo Bullfeather to her outright dedication to her friends, Ace is the kind of friend everyone deserves. When Chloe's marriage is on the rocks (finally obvious to Chloe), Ace and Lilly are immediately at her side, willing to subject themselves to all sorts of situations (and crimes) to help her.
Although my favorite thing about Ace is her directness and honesty, she is such a normal woman -- worrying about her weight, battling with the foods she likes to eat, questioning the man she loves, questioning her choices in career -- that she is easy to identify with. In her early 30's, Ace finds herself in a job she loves with an employer she despises. She has to make grown up decisions regarding her career and love life and it's positively enthralling to root for her as she finds a foothold in adulthood.
Ace is loved by Mason McKenzie and from the first time he speaks to her in the book, readers can't help but fall in love with him. He is a typical man as we find out in the book, clueless as to how his actions have directed affected Ace. The book highlights the absolute difference in how men and women think and see things. When Mason takes a visitor and then a call, both experiences feed into Ace's issues of insecurity. Mason is oblivious to this, not intending to be secretive in either instance. But because he is simply wired differently, Ace's reaction is unexplainable and petty to him. The excitement of traveling the on again/off again relationship with these two is nothing short of reading along yelling, "Kiss him! Kiss him!"
Ace and her friends, especially Gloria Peacock, a spunky older townswoman, exude southern charm (please remember to include a southerner's full name like Ethan Allen and Molly Belle; it's only good form). The characters are believable, funny, and leave the reader hoping her friends are as willing as they to break into hospitals and terrorize patients.
I must admit to initially disliking the book. I sat it down just a few pages in because of the names of the characters. When I was in elementary school, alliteration with names was drummed into our heads. Consequently, I've always considered authors who do it (especially repeatedly) to be elementary or juvenile themselves. Lilly L. Lane. Mason McKenzie. This irritated me at first and I discounted the book. I have never been so pleasantly surprised by giving a book a fighting chance.
Join our discussion of the book here: http://www.blogher.com/bookclub/do-you-text-or-do-you-phone
This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.
Cross-posted at http://www.whatnowandwhy.com/2012/03/09/diary-of-a-mad-fat-girl/